Monday, July 05, 2010

The Bargain

The Memphis Commercial Appeal weighs in today with probably the longest non-travel article about Querétaro we've ever seen, which is surprising until you realize that it's Craig Pettie's hometown paper. [Plus video.] It's also the first American article to get the city's place in the Grand Scheme of Things right. After noting that the state of Querétaro has a murder rate one-fifth as high as Memphis, reporter Daniel Connolly explains:

High-ranking officials in Queretaro didn't agree to interviews when reporters visited. But they have said publicly that while there are illegal drug sales in Queretaro, there is no drug trafficking.

But other residents say Queretaro is a safe place not because drug traffickers aren't there. It's a safe place precisely because the drug traffickers are there, they say.

"There is a protection here for the drug lords. They have a truce between them and the government," said Jose Guillermo del Hoyo.

Large payments to officials and agreements between cartels help make Queretaro a safe haven for major traffickers and their families, he said. Part of the deal is that violence happens elsewhere.

"It has been this safe for a long, long time," he said. "All the drug lords have their families in here. For the kids."

Del Hoyo, known as "Pepe," knows a few things about drugs. He's the 41-year-old director of Clinica Vida, a swanky drug-treatment center outside the city where addicts do morning yoga and stroll among pools and manicured lawns.

Del Hoyo says he was a drug user and unsuccessful drug dealer himself, that he once associated with major traffickers, and that he still knows people who sell drugs.

The cartels themselves sometimes send him clients.

"A lot of drug lords have people on their organizations that need to be clean because they have a position in the organization," del Hoyo said. "So sometimes they send me people in here to get clean."

It's impossible to know for sure if the payments to Queretaro officials take place. It's still harder to know if the treaty among cartels exists, but local journalists and others believe it. "The great narcos have families here," said Aitor Juaristi, a Queretaro drug-prevention official.

In the interest of not having a horse's head tossed over our wall, we should make clear that we have no evidence of any bribes paid to public officials - though it certainly would explain a hell of a lot, since they probably didn't move here for the nightlife.

As far as we're concerned, we heartily endorse whatever backroom deals are being cut to keep Queretaro family-friendly. So on the little matter of the dismembered corpse found stuffed in a plastic bag about 45 minutes from our offices yesterday, we fully expect someone to be disciplined for breech of contract and to issue a public apology by the end of the week.


Rick said...

Maybe the guy in the bag was late with their pizza delivery since they would never break their honor code of no drug violence.

Burro Hall said...

That was our assumption at first, but experience tells us that anyone ordering a pizza around here has pretty low expectations w/r/t delivery time.

Richard said...

Was he delivering the pizza to Jefe Diego?

Anonymous said...

Of course you compared the murder rate of an entire Mexican state to a US city. When looking state vs. state, there are 13 US states with a lower mureder rate than Queratero, and 34 US states with a lower overall crime index than Queratero.

Burro Hall said...

If by "you" you mean "the writer for the Memphis Commercial Appeal," then yes, guilty as charged.

Anonymous said...

Your hometown was pretty much crimefree back in the 60's & 70's,
when your Swampscott Homeys:
Consigliere llario"Larry Baione" Zannino
Enforcer Joe "The Animal"Barbosa and Nahant neighbor Gennaro"Jerry" Angiulo kept the neighborhood "safe
and clean"
"Don't crap in your own backyard"
seems to apply North & South of the Border.


Anonymous said...

Well actually there is no problem with the agreement, because the murder and dismemberment probably took place in Guanajuato, that is not family friendly.

Remember the case of Los Darketos, that did took place in Queretaro, actually a few blocks from La Cruz, I believe near your HQ