April 01, 2010

“We’re not a gang — we’re a union."

Drug gang assasins are
really a sensitive lot:

'We are very good people,” said his colleague Nicolas Sosa, and it is hard to tell if he is joking. Slick and muscled, with patterns shaved into his beard and wearing a tight white t-shirt and cowboy boots, Sosa’s looks are marred only by his nose, which is bent to one side. “I am here because I killed two cops,” he said. “I was mad — they stopped me and took my money, and I had a gun.”

Sosa and Saenz are two senior members of the Artist Assassins, a drug gang working in Ciudad Juárez, the most violent city in the world. The 600 Artist Assassins and 1,200 Mexicles, another local gang, are employed by the Sinaloa Cartel — run by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the country’s most wanted man — to control the drug traffic passing through Juárez.

But the Artist Assassins and the Mexicles are in the middle of a war with the Aztecas. With 7,000 members the Aztecas are the most powerful drug gang in Juárez and work for the rival Juárez Cartel. The leaders of these cartels are businessmen in hiding and the gangs act as their enforcers on the streets. “The Aztecas have a very different way of thinking to us,” Sosa said. “We live and work very closely. We have values: respect, and the liberty to choose. They don’t. They kill our families, our friends, our kids.
“We’re not a gang — we’re a union. The difference is you can get out if you want to. You don’t have to stay.”

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