Wednesday, March 25, 2009

And Then There Were 36

Kinda makes you wonder why no one thought of this "hey, let's offer up a shitload of reward money" thing sooner.

Authorities announced the arrest of Hector Huerta Rios on Wednesday, just hours before U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives for a two-day visit to discuss security issues and U.S. support for Mexico's battle against the drug cartels. Clinton is scheduled to travel to Monterrey on Thursday.

Huerta Rios was detained Tuesday in a suburb of Monterrey, said Army Gen. Luis Arturo Oliver. He was one of 37 top drug suspects on a most-wanted list published Monday.

One neat thing about the system they've set up here is that it's completely anonymous - tipsters never have to give their name, and are identified only by assigned number - and, best of all, anyone is eligible: cartel underlings, hired assassins, even (presumably) people who are themselves on the most-wanted list can earn a quick $2 million just by picking up the phone. Unlike, say, the Italian mafia, these guys don't have that old-time "honor among thieves" code of conduct.

Anyway, since this is a blog and, therefore, massively egocentric, what really caught our eye was how closely we'd been courting a potentially tragic case of mistaken identity.
Huerta was nicknamed "La Burra," or female donkey. "Burro," or male donkey, is a common slang word for someone who transports drugs, but it was unclear if that was the reason for the nickname.

Burro Hall would like to make perfectly clear that we are not engaged in the transport of drugs. Indeed, they rarely make it out of the house. But this leads us to a question we're hoping a native Spanish-speaker can answer for us: Is burro a common slang word for someone who transports drugs? We've only heard mula, which is what we call them in English. And if it is, why would Mexicans say "drug donkey" and we say "drug mule"? And where does the fact that another word for burro is "ass," which is where most mules hide their drugs, fit into all this? Or are we reaching?


gabo said...

As far as I know, no. However, according to, a slang dictionary, "burra" can mean bike or motorcycle. And in Spain, "burro" can mean heroin or just drugs.

Also, similar to English, "burro" in Spanish can be used to insult someone who's not very quick-witted or who's very violent. Among sexists machos, calling another guy a "burra" would suppose adding insult to injury, though I ignore if this is the case with La Burra.

Another more unlikely possibility: in El Salvador "burra" means accumulated work. As in "I didn't come to work yesterday so I have a lot of burra".

Jorge Arturo said...

Not as far as I knows