Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Mass murders make big news, unless it’s Mexico

Post by Brian O'Neill on Feb. 3, 2012 at 10:30 am with 4 Comments »
February 3, 2012 2:44 pm

There is something not right about the media’s coverage of violence on this planet.

Serial killers such as Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgway received sensational coverage during their killing sprees, the lengthy manhunts and the subsequent trials. Years later the stories of their crimes continue to garner news coverage, while the names of their victims (there were allegedly 30 and 71  respectively) pass into oblivion.

This past summer a lunatic named Breivik captured global attention when he gunned down and blew up a total of 77 people (not including scores who were grievously injured). The story held our fascination, both for the comparative youth of the victims as well as the tragically inept police response.

The most recent news in global mass murder was the reported arrest of a cartel hit man, one Enrique Elizondo-Flores. A member of the infamous Zetas drug trafficking organization (DTO), Elizondo-Flores confessed to killing at least 75 people, many of whom were passengers pulled off buses at cartel-run checkpoints. The staggering volume of dead should, at the very least, have captured a portion of the glaring media spotlight heretofore reserved for the serial killer/mass murderer demographic.

Drug war killing/ AP Photo

National news coverage of the arrest and confession? Haven’t seen it. Online tags? Unless I missed it on the scrolling Comcast web page, there was no mention. How about in the print media, last bastion of the “complete story?” Found it.

49 words.

That sum total, in the Trib’s 2/1 print edition, was the only local coverage of the mass murders of at least 75 people (the  online version went into more detail). By today’s standard of mass media hype, that response equates to a deafening silence.

It is not difficult to ascertain why Mexican violence gets the cold shoulder from the media across its norther border. The massive motion of the American experience leaves little room for other stories, and our raging capitalism can bring chaos to smaller countries and their economies . That is especially true of Mexico. Our neighbor to the south struggles not only with its own endemic issues, but because it shares a border with the U.S., Mexico must also deal with the cancerous problem of “Drugs run north, guns run south.”

Because of the disparate economies, and our unquenchable thirst for drugs, impoverished Mexicans routinely succumb to the lure of the cartel money. When the cartels run short of volunteers they set up fake checkpoints on highways. Buses filled with laborers stop at these checkpoints and cartel “recruiters” give the young men on the bus the choice of life as a cartel mule or death. One would think that a hard life of dusty labor would make this false choice an easy one to make. But the mass graves alongside lonely Mexican roads, the mounds of body parts found at warehouses, and the many victims of Enrique Elizondo Flores suggest otherwise.

Many of the people killed in Mexico’s drug war are willing combatants. They are gang members, drug dealers, cartel hit men and corrupt politicians. That story, complete with grisly photos of these individuals gunned down on the streets of Nogales, Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, has been told repeatedly. It is also not unique to Mexico- Americans already have their hands full dealing with gang members and their turf wars based on drugs, prostitution and a horribly misplaced sense of machismo.

But the numbers alone separate our experience from Mexico. Since 2005, approximately 40,000 people have died tragically – many have died horribly – in Mexico’s drug war. Some of those victims were police officers, soldiers, politicians and legitimate businessmen, all singled out for their defiance against the drug cartels. They were kidnapped, killed, bombed and shot.

Many of that staggering number were innocent people. When their buses were stopped, by hard men armed with assault rifles and machetes, many refused to be pawns in the drug war. Some were shot. Some were dismembered. Their stories, at least on the national level, have not been told.

But at least these victims have one advantage over those of serial killers and mass murderers, like Bundy, Ridgway and Breivik. The innocent victims of the Mexican drug war, including those killed by Elizondo-Flores, don’t need to worry about their killer becoming a celebrity.

That won’t happen when you only use 49 words.


Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. Try to tell an American druggie that what they’re doing
    is hurting other people.

  2. The cartel conducts their business with the support of a corrupt Mexican Government. The fact that the U.S. has tried many times to enter into agreements with Mexico to cross the border in pursuit of these groups, only to be refused based on Mexican Nationalism. Now, I understand why Mexico doesn’t want the U.S. interfering with their business. Historically, that hasn’t done well for some countries. Mexico, and Canada for that matter, have issues which we can not turn a blind eye to. If we can wage a war on other countries over tragic events such as terrorism or State sponsored genocide, then it follows we should be going to war with Mexico for the same reasons. If the Mexican government will do nothing to protect their people, or , are the cause of the peoples oppression due to corruption, then we as a Nation should intervene on their behalf if not only for humanitarian reasons, then for our own security because they are our border neighbors and their problems don’t know where the border is.

  3. elmerfudd says:

    “Try to tell an American druggie that what they’re doing
    is hurting other people.”

    Most American druggies get their drugs from a pharmacy. For every junkie shooting black tar, there are a dozen or more using oxy’s and vicodin. Most of them have, (or had), some medical reason for it too, but they really like the pills.

  4. Brian O'Neill says:

    Elmerfudd and S2E- Thanks for your comments, though I couldn’t disagree more with the content.

    The cartels do have individuals placed in sensitive government, military and police positions. But the current Mexican government is waging a WAR against the cartels, and the body count of Mexican soldiers and police, not to mention brave politicians and government officials requires no defense. The expense and effort that the Mexican government is undergoing on behalf of the drug war (which is a war in every sense of the word) demonstrates that this country is fully engaged in solving its own problem. And that problem has an American origin, which I pointed out in the column. The impoverished people of Mexico, like poor people around the globe, are feeding their families with the proceeds of the U.S. hunger for illegal drugs and the cartels need for American guns. More on the gun topic another time.

    As for the “American druggies” source, you couldn’t be more wrong. Oxy and other scheduled pharmaceuticals are still obtained fraudulently, it’s true, but that source is nowhere near the percentage of narcotics supplied to the U.S. by Mexican drug trafficking organizations. Pharmacies have adopted anti-theft procedures and U.S. drug companies have even altered the chemistry of their pain killers so as to dissuade the use of these pills among recreational abusers. I not only receive this information in regular global and national drug trend reports, but this fact is evident in the day to day street drugs police officers see.

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