El Pueblo Fantasma. The Ghost Town. The Murder Valley. Theses are only some of the titles that were given to my family’s home town, Juarez. Juarez has a population of 1.5 million people and lies next to the El Paso Texas border. This valley was home to my family for many years before the cartel made it there. My family left with intention to come back one day but as soon as my grandma Martha was able to go back the crime increased. In 2010, homicides were a daily thing averaging from 8 to 20 killings a day but never did I think my family would contribute to that statistic.
In the book Drug Trafficking by Jill Sherman, it talks about the Global drug trade and the way drugs are transported and the violence between rival gangs. In the book it says “ Organizations that traffic drugs compete with one another for turf, or territory, because each group sells drugs in its own specific area.” My family was told my cousin Beto was in the cartel and he fought off other rival gangs. Beto and his best friend Junior were storing guns a few minutes away from my uncle’s house. The rival cartel came into town and stole all of the guns from Junior, Junior was killed without question. Beto was torn to hear this, his best friend was taken from him and it was hard to believe that someone I have walked my town with was slaughtered.
On a cold gloomy summer morning I got the worst news I’ve ever experienced, my cousin Beto was kidnapped by the cartel. He’d just gone to bed after working a 12 hour shift at the El Paso Border. He was a hard working young man and a family man, he’d do anything to give his daughter a life in such a hopeless country. He was asleep with his daughter and wife in the same bed when four men broke into his home looking for him. They asked his wife who he was and she gave them his name, Alberto Guzman. My cousin knew what was going to happen so he got out of his bed and began to dress himself. One of the men told him not to bother getting dressed and told him where he was going he didn’t need clothes.
The drug war in Mexico isn’t between the Government and the and Cartel, the war is between the people and the cartel. The corrupt Mexican Government hasn’t done anything to stop the kidnappings in Mexico even when according the to Joshua Partlow, writer for the washington post stated Mexico reached an all time high record of 27,740 kidnappings in a year. An estimate of 20 percent of those 27,740 will not survive.
Weeks pass by as my family walks with their heads held down, we try and stay strong hoping for a sign my cousin is okay. It was late at night when my grandma got the news and early in the next day when I got the news, bodies were found near our town and one resembled my cousin according the police. My uncle Jaime went to go and confirm if that was my cousin but how could he identify this man if he was burned crucially, there was not one flake of skin left on this man but yet he resembled my cousin? This tore my family deep down, we were left with one other option and that was for a DNA scan from the body and DNA from my cousin. The average DNA scan take 60 days and we’ve been waiting 5 months.
Within these 5 months we’ve experienced a rollercoaster, a rollercoaster in the sense that we get good news then we’re brought back down. Despite the circumstances my uncle and his wife are experiencing they still did mass at their their church and held prayers for my family. My uncle Jamie’s church was everything to him and it was an outsource to his sons murder, but one day a gang member came to my uncles home and warned them if they do not get out of town in a week they’ll be slaughtered as well. As fast as my cousin was taken from our family, my family’s life in mexico was taken away as well.
My family lit up with hope when my cousin Beto reached his wife with a unknown number claiming he was okay and he’ll be home soon, he also said he was working on a farm for the cartel and when he was done he’d come home. Uncertain if this was truly my cousin my family still lost a little hope considering he texted his wife and nobody heard his voice. A couple weeks later a girl was kidnapped from our town and she aswell tetxted her mother saying she was fine and she was working on this farm with others who’ve been kidnapped as well. This news reached my uncle’s fast and now we’re all waiting hoping for the best and hoping we see Beto one day with his daughter in his arms.