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Mormons vs Mexican Drug Gangs
September 25, 2012 1:31 PM   Subscribe

"The Mexican drug cartels are at war... with Mormons. VICE founder Shane Smith went down to Ciudad Juárez, near the US border, to investigate this story ... filled with guns, drugs, murder, and Romneys." posted by empath (33 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
Romney was born in Mexico, wasn't he?
posted by symbioid at 1:43 PM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Shane also did a phone interview with Joe Rogan on the JRE podcast the other day, just after this was posted, explaining a few details of what he's uncovered. He takes great care to explain this is not anti-Mormon by any means, and he holds great respect for the Mormons on the frontlines of this war.

Here's the link. The interview starts at 7min 40s and continues until about 56min.
posted by revmitcz at 1:44 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Romney was born in Mexico, wasn't he?

No, his father was.
posted by kamikazegopher at 1:46 PM on September 25, 2012


kamikazegopher: "Romney was born in Mexico, wasn't he?

No, his father was.
"

Ah - ok, yeah I remember, right. Gonna have to check this out when I get home. Much as the macho bullshit posturing of Vice annoys me, they find some interesting angles, at least.
posted by symbioid at 1:48 PM on September 25, 2012


I was completely surprised by the fact that the Mormon colonies in Mexico have existed for over a century. The juxtaposition between the very American lives of the Mexican Mormons, the drug cartels and Mexican life in general is almost surreal, like an alternative take on the American frontier.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:53 PM on September 25, 2012


kamikazegopher: "Romney was born in Mexico, wasn't he?

No, his father was.


Romney on the DREAM Act.

All very ironic too, as Shane points out in one of the last segments of the documentary, that he is the very definition of the type of person the DREAM Act aims to help - the son of a first generation immigrant who sought refuge in the US.
posted by windbox at 1:54 PM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]




All very ironic too, as Shane points out in one of the last segments of the documentary, that he is the very definition of the type of person the DREAM Act aims to help - the son of a first generation immigrant who sought refuge in the US.

He was born in Mexico of American parents as a US citizen. George Romney is as American as apple pie. So American he ran for president in 1968 but got kicked out in the primaries.

By the way, foot-in-mouth is apparently hereditary.
posted by Talez at 1:59 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


[To the extent that this interesting and worth a post, it's not for the opportunity to just fold yet more random Mitt Romney election riffing into another thread. Please do not go there, there are other open threads available for that.]
posted by cortex at 2:00 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Vice is great. This thing they did about Columbia recently blew my mind, and really changed my opinion about the level of their macho journalism.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:02 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


This could probably use some sort of warning or tag regarding the graphic violence depicted. I know it is sort of implied, but, those are some pretty gory images.
posted by HuronBob at 2:05 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


HuronBob - thanks for saving me a click. Just skimming the comments "gory images" jumped out at me, and now I'm very glad I didn't have to discover that first hand.

The Mexican drug cartel violence is something else. Even simply reading about it makes me feel sick; seeing pictures is haunting to a terrifying degree. I can't fathom what daily life must be like for the people who live with the specter of that lurking in the background.
posted by harujion at 2:09 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are those Mormon colonias down there fundamentalist Mormons or are they "regular" LDS?
posted by resurrexit at 2:27 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't fathom what daily life must be like for the people who live with the specter of that lurking in the background.

It's the libertarian version of low intensity civil war: all the rights violations one would normally associate with that, supplied by the invisible hand of the market.
posted by jaduncan at 2:29 PM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think libertarian is the right word for the situation in Mexico.
posted by resurrexit at 2:33 PM on September 25, 2012


Vice just keeps getting better and better. Color me impressed.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:36 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I really wanted to like this but I watched the whole episode one and they barely mention Romney in the beginning, then very little is said about Mormons at all. I guess episode 2 explains the connection but I was a tad underwhelmed after all the build-up.
posted by mathowie at 2:39 PM on September 25, 2012


It's in seven parts. The Romney's come in at the end.
posted by empath at 2:42 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


They mention taking pictures of targets in the documentary.... When I was in Flores, Guatemala, one of the people I was traveling with took pictures of some parked cars at night (I forget why, some car guy thing) and our guide just about had a heart attack. Apparently Mexican and Guatemalan cartels were warring over the area, and they often took pictures like that of target's vehicles. He rushed him back to the hostel before he drew any attention. Seemed kind of exaggerated to me, but I did see some guys driving around in a technical, so maybe not.
posted by empath at 2:48 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are those Mormon colonias down there fundamentalist Mormons or are they "regular" LDS?

I'm wondering about the LeBaron family, first one of them said fuck, even lapsed mormons I know will say "what the eff" or "what the h", then they seemed to be drinking with Shane Smith. These guys are presumably part of a fundamentalist offshoot of the LDS that spawned Evril LeBaron but they are cursing and drinking on camera.

Perhaps at this point they are just dudes who had some mormon relatives in the past and just happen to sill live down there. Anyone know anything else about them?
posted by Ad hominem at 2:53 PM on September 25, 2012


It's really interesting to see something of the Mormon colonies in Mexico instead of just reading about this stuff. Adds a different dimension.

It looked like the LeBaron colony was drier and had more Mexican inspired architecture, versus the Romney colony, which was wetter and had traditional 19th to early 20th century style buildings. The Romneys seemed quite a bit richer, actually, if money means irrigation for things like golf courses.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:55 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


re: "gory images"

These images actually underplay the situation in Mexico. There are 'Christian' death-cult aspects of some of the Narcos, with ritual significance given to how body parts are stacked when displayed for public view. There's more, but let me leave it there. If you want to scare the crap out of yourself, you can go to:

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/

Just don't expect to sleep well.

Also, the obligatory note that "Los Zetas", a breakoff cartel, originated when a group of counter-insurgents, trained at the School of the Americas at taxpayer expense, followed the money and switched sides. I try to be worldy wise, but that just irritates me.
posted by dragonsi55 at 3:02 PM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think the LeBarons are slowly integrating, turns out one of them is even a congressman down there. Shane Smith refered to them as "mormonish". It really is pretty interesting.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:04 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Really unfortunate that they didn't fact check Romney's cousin's claim about Operation Fast & Furious. It was pure weapons-grade bullshit.
In June 2012, a six-month long investigation by Fortune magazine concluded that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.[19] Agents interviewed during the investigation repeatedly asserted that only one isolated incident of "gunwalking" ever occurred, and was performed independently by ATF Agent John Dodson (who later appeared on CBS News as a whistleblower to denounce the gunwalking scandal) as part of an unauthorized solo action outside of the larger Fast and Furious operation.[19]
The Attorneys General didn't want the ATF messing with gun buyers, because we love them guns here in America. From the Forbes article:
In a meeting on Jan. 5, 2010, Emory Hurley, the assistant U.S. Attorney in Phoenix overseeing the Fast and Furious case, told the agents they lacked probable cause for arrests, according to ATF records. Hurley's judgment reflected accepted policy at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona.
posted by mullingitover at 3:04 PM on September 25, 2012


The LeBaron congressman (don't remember his name, unfortunately) was a very interesting fellow. At the beginning of the interview his accent was quite "Mexican," but as it went on he sounded more American. Kind of like a reflex or something. He probably speaks Spanish all day, and doesn't do a lot of English language interviews.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:09 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ok, I found the rest of the parts and watched them all, that was really great. Such a fucked up situation down there that could be almost entirely eradicated if we cut off the supply of money leading there by legalizing drugs and producing them stateside.
posted by mathowie at 3:29 PM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Great story, those people are very courageous.
posted by fshgrl at 3:36 PM on September 25, 2012


I love that Vice has stepped up here, in the same way Rolling Stone has stepped up in recent years, to do the sort of reportage some of the more traditional outlets are unable to do. Really fantastic journalism -- I would have loved to see a few more interviews with other folks, but I always want more, even when it's not really necessary.

One question: do the Lebarons drink, or was that just the crew from Vice?
posted by brina at 4:48 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the reddit iama they said the drinking and swearing were why they were described as "mormonish".
posted by bukvich at 5:31 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


This was impressive and informative.
posted by gen at 5:57 PM on September 25, 2012


Fascinating, thanks for the post.
posted by jontyjago at 7:04 PM on September 25, 2012


I don't think libertarian is the right word for the situation in Mexico.

Real libertarians would tell you this is what inevitably happens with government- it gets subverted by more powerful interests and used as a tool for harm. Further, it is the illegal-ness of drugs that gives the cartels their power. If drugs were legal, there could be legitimate players in the marketplace, and they would crowd out the violent ones. The drug manufacturers would be so busy competing for business (as opposed to competing with each other for their piece of a captured marketplace) that there would neither be the inclination nor tolerance for violence.

On the other hand, someone else could also make the argument that this is why we need a more powerful government. That this anarchy and violence is what happens when there isn't (enough) government around to put a stop to things.
posted by gjc at 6:03 AM on September 26, 2012




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