August 29, 2011

Even by Mexican Drug War standards, last Thursday’s death inferno at Monterrey’s Casino Royale seemed a bit much.

At least 52 people died after a group of eight or nine gunmen stormed the casino, began randomly firing at civilians, doused the entrance with gasoline, and torched the joint. Trapped inside, most of the victims were thought to have died of smoke inhalation. Many of the corpses were found clutching cell phones, vainly calling for help as they helplessly perished.

This sort of psychotic public-arena violence is nothing new in Monterrey—nor even at Casino Royale. In July, 27 people were shot to death in a Monterrey bar after another group of gunmen burst in and randomly began spraying lead. In June, 34 people were murdered in Monterrey over a single 24-hour period, all of it blamed on an escalating turf war between rival drug syndicates—the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas Cartel. In May, rifle-wielding psychopaths robbed four Monterrey casinos, including Casino Royale. In January, armed gunmen opened fire on presumed rivals inside Casino Royale.

“Is all this madness necessary merely because people like to get high?”

What’s truly insane is that the insanity is by no means confined to Monterrey. In less than five years, the Mexican Drug War is already thought to have stacked up over 40,000 corpses.

Try counting out loud to 40,000. You’ll likely give up before you reach 100.

And these aren’t merely shoot-’em-dead and hide-the-body murders. What’s uniquely odious about the Mexican Drug War is not only the astronomical death toll, but its exhibitionistic, eyeball-exploding brutality. People aren’t merely shot to death—it’s done on camera, with the results uploaded to YouTube. Victims aren’t just slowly tortured into nonexistence by sadistic teenagers—the perps record it while their friends laugh and then share it with the world. Victims are butchered, decapitated, and then proudly flaunted in public like hunting trophies or parade floats.

In July of 2010, the Gulf Cartel left 15 dead bodies in the middle of a busy road near San Fernando for motorists to see. A month later, four headless and hacked-to-pieces carcasses were hung by their ankles from a bridge in Cuernavaca. In January of this year, 15 headless bodies were strewn amid 15 bodiless heads outside an Acapulco shopping center. In February, seven bodies were found swinging from bridges in Mazatlan. In most such cases, the corpses are accompanied by written threats and taunts.

As with Thursday’s Casino Royale death blaze, random civilians are frequently targeted in attempts to paralyze the public will and force abject complicity. In 2008, at least eight were killed and over a hundred injured in Morelia, Michoácan after hand grenades were casually tossed into a crowd of thousands. In 2010, sixteen teenagers, none of them affiliated with drug gangs, were shot down cold at a party in Ciudad Juárez. Later that year in Ciudad Juárez, 14 were murdered at a boy’s birthday party. In October 2010, 15 people were shot to death at a car wash in the city of Tepic. According to a source only identified as “Juan” in the Houston Chronicle, the cartels have, merely for amusement, taken to kidnapping bus passengers and forcing them to fight each other in gladiatorial death matches, then dispatching the survivors on suicide missions against rival cartels.

In December of 2010, an estimated five dozen gunmen attacked the village of Tierras Coloradas in Durango, burning down all the houses and dozens of cars, causing all the natives to flee. Many villages, especially along the American border, have turned into ghost towns due to the skull-cracking violence and spirit-crushing terror tactics.


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