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Thirty-Nine Days of Terror


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Bordering the Future


All bets were off in the wake of Carillo Fuentes' demise on July 4, 1997, as public executions, kidnappings, and disappearances began to terrorize the residents of Juarez and El Paso.

July 13. In Juarez,corpses of a man and a woman were discovered in the trunk of a compact car, their hands and feet bound with electric cord and their heads covered with hoods. The woman was said to have served as an informant for investigators from the Mexican federal attorney general's office.

July 16. A member of the Gandara Granillo family, one of five narco clans, was shot and killed at the wheel of his car in the town of Guadalupe Bravos, downriver from Juarez.

July 19. One hour after police agents searched his house and found illegal drugs and weapons, a suspected trafficker nicknamed El Genio arrived home, in the town of Guadalupe Bravos, to a hail of bullets. His family accused local police of committing the murder. The Chihuahua attorney general's Internal Affairs unit opened an investigation of 16 officers.

August 3. The Max Fim massacre took place in Juarez. Among the victims was Lino Herrera, a relative of Carillo Fuentes and one of his top lieutenants in the drug cartel.

August 17. Five people were kidnapped from a Juarez restaurant called the Space Burger and remain missing. One of the victims was the cousin of a top Carillo Fuentes associate. He and the others were also suspects in a heist of 120 kilos of cocaine and $500,000 in cash.

The same afternoon, two men were dragged from a private home across town. One disappeared. The other's body was dumped on a side street the next day, his face covered with adhesive tape. The day after that, his vacant house was ransacked.

August 22. A Juarez lawyer on his way home from work was fired upon from a late-model pick-up. He returned his assailants' fire, wounding one, then lost them in rush hour traffic. An hour later, four Juarez physicians were summoned from the Guernica and San Rafael hospitals to treat a drug trafficker's gunshot wounds. Although the injured drug trafficker survived, the four doctors were found the following morning, strangled, tortured, and deposited in Chamizal Park, just beneath a 26-story-high pole flying a Mexican flag half the length of a football field.

August 31. Chihuahua Governor Francisco Barrio Terrazas and Juarez Mayor Ramon Galindo led a march against the violence. A local radio announcer exhorted the marchers: "From now on, the criminals won't feel safe here because we've said, 'Enough!' " An hour after the marchers dispersed, three men, including an American student at the University of Texas-El Paso, were gunned down and two others were wounded in the doorway of Geronimo's bar, less than 50 feet from the Max Fim. They had just come from the bullring. 1


ENDNOTES

1 "A Violent Border Town Says 'Basta Ya'-Enough," The New York Times (September 7, 1997).