It was 11:30 at night in Ciudad Juarez just south of the U.S. border when we reporters heard on the police frequency that a man had been left hanging on the chainlink fence of the Seven & Seven bar, the same place where a few days earlier 11 people had been gunned down.Once we were sure that the information was real, we approached the bar only after coordinating between ourselves via walkie-talkie. We arrived at the chilling scene, nervous about covering such an incident, and noticed several cars cruising the area around us.We managed to work from a distance for a short time until the police sealed off the area, blocking our access. I managed to take several photos of the Dantesque scene in which I could see a man’s body with his hands handcuffed to the fence in the form of a crucifixion. We stayed nearby until they removed the body to be taken to the morgue.Military and forensic experts inspect the body of a man who was killed outside a nightclub in the border city of Ciudad Juarez August 31, 2009. A man was handcuffed to a fence and shot several times by drug hitmen outside a nightclub, according to local media. The assailants also left a warning message, known as “narcomanta”, at the site of the shooting. REUTERS/Alejandro BringasViolence in Ciudad Juarez increases from day to day, in spite of the war against narcotraffic being waged by the city, state and federal governments. That war simply doesn’t work, and the number of dead has continued to increase since 2008, hitting a new monthly record high of 248 murders last July, the majority related to contract killings within organized crime.This wave of violence has been increasing ever since President Felipe Calderon launched his “crusade” called Operation Chihuahua, which instead of reducing the violence, death and drug trafficking has seen them increase.The death and violence has affected me as I capture the murders and executions of civilians and police with my camera. What moves me to cover this, in spite of the great personal risk, is the chance to show others what I live daily and reflect on it through a photograph.
Two women hug as forensic workers inspect a crime scene in the border city of Ciudad Juarez July 30, 2009. Local government deputy Claudia Lorena Pérez Marrufo and her companion were fatally injured after a drive-by shooting incident. More than 12,300 people have died in Mexico in a three-way war between rival cartels and the army since President Felipe Calderon deployed thousands of troops against the cartels in December 2006. REUTERS/Alejandro Bringas
One cold night in November 2007, marked the beginning of the war between cartels. We still didn’t know anything about the rivals as we listened on the radio to an exchange of threats between La Linea, cartelof the Carrillo Fuentes family, and Los Chapitos, cartel of Sinaloa. They played narcocorridos (folk music that glorifies the feats of drug bandits) over the police frequency to announce an execution, and I remember the incredulous looks of the police agents to learn that their frequency had been intervened. They seemed to ask themselves, “Who will be the next to fall, gunned down, dead, where, when….?” This was after a “narco-list” had appeared with the names of agents targeted to be assassinated.This violence in which I live now, incomparable to any time in the past, began to escalate with the 2008 arrest of former police chief Saulo Reyes Gamboa by agents from the U.S. and Mexico, when he tried to bribe an agent to smuggle five tonnes of marijuana into the U.S. Nobody expected such a violent reaction, neither local officials nor journalists. We never imagined what was to come – murders and executions in a war that never ends.
A relative reacts after arriving at a crime scene where 17 patients were killed at a rehabilitation center in the border city of Ciudad Juarez September 2, 2009. About a dozen hooded gunmen burst into a Mexican rehabilitation clinic near the U.S. border on Wednesday, lining up patients before killing 17 of them. The attack was one of the deadliest in President Felipe Calderon’s three-year war against drug cartels, despite the presence of 10,000 troops and federal police in Ciudad Juarez who constantly patrol the city’s streets. REUTERS/Alejandro Bringas