Thu | Aug 17, 2017

30 lives extinguished, but no regrets: A killer's story

Published:Wednesday | December 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM
A man claiming to be responsible for kidnapping, torture and killing on behalf of a drug cartel speaks to the Associated Press in Guerrero state’s Costa Grande region, Mexico. The 29-year-old man raises cattle for a living and doesn’t consider himself a drug trafficker or a professional killer, although he is paid for making people disappear.

IGUALA (AP):

The killer said he "disappeared" a man for the first time at age 20. Nine years later, he said, he has eliminated 30 people, maybe three in error.

He sometimes feels sorry about the work he does, but has no regrets, he said, because he is providing a kind of public service, defending his community from outsiders. Things would be much worse if rivals took over.

"A lot of times your neighbourhood, your town, your city is being invaded by people who you think are going to hurt your family, your society," he says. "Well then, you have to act because the government isn't going to come help you."

He operates along the Costa Grande of Guerrero, the south-western state that is home to glitzy Acapulco as well as to rich farmland used to cultivate heroin poppies and marijuana. Large swaths of the state are controlled or contested by violent drug cartels that traffic in opium paste for the US market, and more than 1,000

people have been reported missing in Guerrero since 2007, far fewer than the actual number believed to have disappeared in the state.

The plight of the missing and their families burst into public awareness last year when 43 rural college students were detained by police and disappeared from the Guerrero city of Iguala, setting off national protests. Suddenly, hundreds more families from the area came forward to report their kidnap victims, known now as "the other disappeared." They told stories of children and spouses abducted from home at gunpoint, or who left the house one day and simply vanished.

This is a story from the other side, the tale of a man who kidnaps, tortures and kills for a drug cartel. His story is the mirror image of those recounted by survivors and victims' families, and seems to confirm their worst fears: Many, if not most of the disappeared likely are never coming home.