February 22nd, 2012
When The Drug Cartels Are The Guys Down The Street

By Wuicho Vargas

Violence, I must admit, is taking over the southernmost part of Texas. Here in the Rio Grande Valley we have grown accustomed to it. Sad, but true, we seem to have turned numb to the horrible escalating violence. But who can blame us? We are border towns that have been in touch with violence since our creation — try to find a corrido about the border that has a happy ending.

About three weeks ago I was driving to my mom’s paletería, and as I reached the traffic light to turn left, I saw a tumult of stopped cars at the green light. When I got close to the cars, they slowly started to move forward, and there was a white hummer that quickly accelerated, going against traffic. At first I was afraid that this was going to turn ugly, just like in Monterrey, but then the Hummer turned its lights on, and I realized that it was an undercover cop car. I didn’t know that cops had Hummers. My fear evaporated.

The traffic began to disperse and I was able to turn. As I reached the other side of the freeway, I turned my head to the right and saw that there was a black Suburban surrounded by eight or nine cop cars and two white undercover cop hummers. Meanwhile a helicopter was hovering above them. That moment was too surreal that I wasn’t able to digest it until I got to my mom’s paletería.

Once I got there, I asked her if she had heard or knew what was going on one block away, to this she only answered with a “no.” But there were two ladies eating ice cream at a bench inside the place who asked me what was happening. I told them what I saw and their only response was that “it was probably el cartel.” That was it — no emotion — no feeling, but there was this horrible certainty and security that this was cartel stuff.

Later I found out that the drivers of the Suburban were two guys, one was 18 and the other 19, who had in their possession a whole arsenal. Bulletproof vests, grenades, and army exclusive ammo were found inside that suburban. They were taking the ammo to their hiding place, which was a couple of blocks up north, inside a trailer home. It came to light that they were committing kidnappings and robberies.

There has been talk about violence spilling over the border, we are a part of it here in the southern border, but I can’t totally agree with that. For me, these are just things that happened before, but since the frequency has increased, it is harder to keep it underground. We could blame it on the lack of journalism, or the fear and danger that accompanies these things, but there is also another side to things. There are interests that are jeopardized every time something like this comes out to the light, for example tourism and investors.

I just hope this violence does not get out of hand, and that our police and government figures we have roaming around the border keep it under control. There have been other instances when persecutions began in the city and end up at the river, and since that is Mexico’s business, the U.S. can’t do anything about it. This for me is ridiculous, since both nations want to preserve the welfare of their people; I don’t believe there should be a communication barrier when these things happen. Our systems of protection and security should be revaluated and the border should once and for all be a safer place.

Wuicho Vargas is a writer who lives in McAllen, Texas.

[Photo By vectorportal]

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