The Future of the Border/ The Texas Observer’s 60th Anniversary Issue

  The border is not just a place, it’s an idea– so begins my piece in the The Texas Observer’s 60th Anniversary Issue.  The thought flashed across my mind as I traveled from ciudad Juárez into el Paso, and then through Del Rio and down into the Rio Grande Valley. The editors asked me to try and […]

Children at the Border | Analysis

Over the summer I covered the Texas press for the Columbia Journalism Review’s U.S. Project. In early June the increasing number of unaccompanied children arriving on the border from Central America captured the nation’s attention and became one of the most important stories of the summer. Here is a recap. On June 5, the conservative news […]

Hour of Darkness |Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma

In the early part of last year I read Alfredo Corchado’s new memoir “Midnight in Mexico” and it soon became a topic of conversation while I traveled through Tijuana, in Texas and in New York City.  The book’s storyline is built on Corchado’s investigation into a very possible hit on his life. In a review and q/a […]

Massacre and Government Search Operation Reveals Network Behind the ‘Z’

In early 2014, the Mexican government–state and federal– launched an operation to search for human remains in the northern state of Coahuila. The search was meant  to investigate a massacre, perhaps the largest in recent years, that involved some 300 victims. The operation quickly became a big media story in Mexico. But the operation, as it turns […]

A Sidewalk Portal in Mexico City

Earlier in the year I visited the Mercado Jamaica in Mexico City, an all hours, year round flower market where I met a graffiti crew working on an enormous mural. But this mural not only captures centuries of history surrounding the mercado, its very construction fits within a cultural and political legacy with origins in the Conquest. Published in […]

Mexican Jihad the making of a “drug war” through images | Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma

Of all the stories I have ever worked on, Mexican Jihad has had the wildest ride. Originally commissioned for a publication that was suddenly eliminated, as tends to happen in our “media environment,” the piece sat on the shelf destined to be forgotten.  And then,  last Fall, Elaine Rivera, a very dear friend and mentor, passed […]

The “Sinaloa Cartel”| the myth, the U.S. government’s case and the documents

InSight Crime, the must read for anyone following organized crime in the Americas, recently published my analysis of government documents submitted in the conspiracy and drug trafficking case against Vicente Zambada which is pending in Chicago. Zambada is the son of Ismael “Mayo” Zambada, who is thought to share the reins of power with Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman […]

Living Under the Law of Border Security

Border security or border enforcement often brings to mind images of green and white-painted Border Patrol SUVs roaming across that contentious line between the United States and Mexico. But across South Texas, which I am defining as everything below San Antonio, border security is a vast apparatus involving multiple agencies across a wide swath of […]

The Road Home| Military veterans and homelessness

Ten years ago, I produced a feature story for public radio about Army Reservists as they prepared to deploy for Afghanistan.The piece was built around the drafting of their a last will and testament and centered on the singular question: “what was the most precious thing in their lives?” Over the summer I reported on […]

Mexico’s City of Dogs–Al Jazeera America

The dogs of Ciudad Juarez as a metaphor for the ambitions, corruption and failure of people. Published September 4 by Al Jazeera America. Excerpt: Imagine, then, the upheaval that upended this imperfect but functioning system when a manageable 20,000 street dogs morphed into a teeming population of 200,000 mutts, German Shepherds, Labs, and the favored […]