“We’re Coming For You…”

This will likely be a long story, and with triggering content. Cartels, drugs, and violence.

Nineteen years ago right now, in 2000, I was dealing with the aftermath of a house fire. I lost my pets, most of my possessions, and my place to live.

Fast forward to over a year later, Spring 2001. I was still with my ex. He was freshly out of a job again, so he chose to sell weed. At one point, he was kind of given an offer he couldn’t refuse… buying weed from a Cartel, in Dallas, arranged by a middleman (friend of a friend) who lived there. I chose to get myself involved as well, driving. We did get caught eventually, right before my 24th birthday.

After we were busted, we owed the Cartel about $8,000. I saw what this Cartel did to a guy who owed them $20,000. I didn’t witness anything, but I saw the poorly cleaned crime scene. Maybe I will save the graphic details for a movie.

My ex had our only cell phone, prepaid by minutes. Random numbers started calling one day. Texas, Illinois, Minnesota… the Cartel wanted to find Mike. Maybe me too, as his girlfriend and the driver, but their focus was definitely Mike. They filled our inbox with threatening messages, saying things like, “We’re coming for you… We have guys from Chicago and Minnesota and they are coming for you…. We are getting closer….” We never responded, at least not at first.

I later found out that a friend of mine was visited by them right after we left her house one day. They beat her pregnant self up pretty good, trashed her apartment, and kicked in her big screen TV, because she didn’t have answers for them about where we were.

We were hiding out, bouncing around hotels for about a week or so. Once night at this hotel, I noticed a truck creeping through the lot real slow. I had this vibe but kept my cool. As they made the bend to leave the parking lot, I peeked out the blinds. I noted Minnesota plates and three people. The one in the middle was wearing a hat typical of Rancheros. Probably them. They never found us though.

The Cartel then told our inbox that they know when the next court date is, and they would just snipe him/us out there. Mike got real scared, and called his lawyer. What do we do about this and our safety? The lawyer called the Sheriff’s department, who called the DEA, who called us. We met with the DEA, two agents. One talked with us, and the other took our phone into their vehicle. He emerged some time later, looking rather shaken up. He said, “Oh yes. This is definitely real.”

The Cartel called AGAIN talking their BS. Mike answered this time all pissy, and basically told them to fuck off because we just talked to the DEA. Guess what? We never heard from them again.

I still won’t answer my door unless I’m expecting someone, but I feel a lot of relief knowing that specific Cartel was taken over some years ago.

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The Hypocrisy of the Mexican Government

A lot is being said about the United States border and immigration policies. Not much is said about the Mexican side of things. 

I was in Mexico for five months in 2002. Yeah that is 15 years ago now, but this story is still relevant. I left the US in attempt to live life in Mexico. With the way things were I naïvely believed I could just go get a job there. I quickly learned it is a whole different country.

I first had an unexpected, extended stay in Villahermosa. I made buddies with a bartender there. Nice guy, from Brazil. He was the first to tell me. This guy was living life in Mexico, working to make money to send home to his family in Brazil. He said if he were caught working there, he would be detained until he was deported. Wait a minute… Isn’t that contradicting how Mexico feels about the US policies?

My visa was strictly tourist. Not work. As such I had an issue getting a job once I got to Cancún. Most places wouldn’t hire me. Some places have ways to help getting the proper visa. I went to Wet & Wild, a waterpark on the beach. They even had swim with dolphins so think of all the people who work there. From counter to cleanup there are probably a lot. The woman liked me, it was obvious. She said, “I would LOVE to hire you, but the Mexican government says I can only have THIRTEEN foreigners working here at any given time.” Let that sink in.

I was able to find work in a nightclub, as a shot girl. Fun times, no doubt. One day my boss came to me and the others to collect our bottles and aprons for a bit. Immigration agents were coming or were already there. My boss got us drinks and asked us to chill like tourists til they cleared. 

Basically, the Mexican position is ‘if a Mexican can do the job, a Mexican will do the job.’ But then their government at the same time was printing maps of the US border areas and where water stations are to help the migrants coming here. Hmmmmm.

Left for Dead

I had lived in Cancún for four months. I have so much I could write. For now, this is what happened my last night there.

Christmas Eve 2002 

Mike and I had our tickets bought. The next night we were to board a car ferry in Puerto Morelos to return to the United States. Along with our friend Alfredo, we set out to live up our last night. We cruised down Zona Hotelera in our Mustang 5.0 as the sun set, stopping for some pictures at some of our favorite places.

Once it was dark we headed to Wet Willie’s, a slushie bar that my friend Josh worked at. We met with my friend Zac. Zac and I had conversations about weed in the past, but never smoked together. We decided to change that on my last night and we all headed back to where we stayed in Centro.

And then…. 

Alcohol and weed should not be enjoyed together, but that’s what we did that night. Alfredo stayed behind, not feeling up for Round Two. We could easily have taken the bus back into the Hotel Zone, but Mike was insistent we take the Mustang. Problem was, neither he nor I felt sober enough to drive. Zac said he could.

I was in the back seat, fighting the urge to just pass out. At one point I looked around, trying to gain my bearings. I remember thinking to myself, “Why are we on Bonampak (Avenue)?” I also quickly realized we were not slowing down fast enough. Zac rear-ended a taxi. Suddenly I felt pretty sober.

The damage to both cars was so superficial. Barely scratches. A cop came to the scene. Mike made a verbal agreement that if we paid the taxi driver $50 USD that would be sufficient to cover his damages. The cop seemed satisfied with that so he left. Now the taxi guy wants $200. We didn’t have that, and with it being now 1:00 AM Christmas morning, a Western Union seemed unlikely. The taxi guy said follow me, we could work this out.

I stayed in the back seat. Mike chose to drive this time. We followed the taxi into an area I knew was bad news. Just a feeling. The taxi pulled over and stopped in this neighborhood on a dead end street. As it was Christmas Eve, it was like a block party going on in the neighborhood. Another taxi quickly pulled up behind us, and a third along side of us. Guys came on both sides of the car yelling. Mike and Zac both stayed in place. The guys outside got real hostile and started punching Mike. They ripped off his watch and tore his shirt. Zac ran away. At least I hope he got away.

The guys tried to get the keys from the ignition, but luckily the Mustang has an ignition lock under the steering wheel. Mike got bold. He put the car in drive and pushed the car in front of us some. He then put it in reverse to push that car some. Back and forth, until we could squeeze out between the taxis. We squealed away, but of course had to double back because of the dead end. It was enough time for the guys to gather cinder blocks, which they threw at the car as fast and furious as possible. The windshield was smashed but we pushed through and got out of the neighborhood. 

We had lost the taxis. We approached a stoplight, in the left turn lane. I don’t remember if it were the cop or the ambulance first, but someone had noticed our broken windshield. I remember them trying to convince Mike to get medical attention, as he was obviously a little battered. They had called a tow truck, which was parked in front of us ready to load up. Mike got into the passenger seat, and I instinctively hopped into the drivers seat… Just in time for the taxi to show up. The taxi driver had a little conversation with the cop. The cop called off both the ambulance and the tow truck. And then he left.  The cop left us for dead in the hands of these taxi drivers.

As soon as the tow truck driver was pulling away from us, I floored it. I didn’t care that this light was red. It was a race for my life, and I won.