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 […]

Drugs and Democracy–a look at Uruguay and Mexico published in the Boston Review

Uruguay makes international headlines news as marijuana legislation moves ahead. In the July/Aug 2013 issue of the Boston Review I compare Uruguay and Mexico’s drug strategy through the lens of democratic values. Excerpt: The scale of the problem differs between the countries: Uruguay lacks Mexico’s entrenched, politically connected organized crime apparatus, and Uruguay doesn’t play […]

Myths of Mexico published in Columbia Journalism Review

Myths of Mexico/Columbia Journalism Review/Nov.-Dec. 2009 In 1891, my great-great-uncle, Catarino Garza, attempted to overthrow the Mexican dictator, Porfirio Díaz, by launching an armed revolution from my family’s south Texas ranch. One year into his campaign, Garza agreed to an interview with The New York Times to explain the reasons behind his insurrection. “The impression […]

Post 9/11 “terrorism” related trials/laws

Below is a sample of some of the trials that grew out of the Sept 11 2001 attacks on New York City. All reports were published in The Washington Post. The case of Sheik Mohammed Ali Hassan Moayad drew particular attention after Attorney General John Ashcroft labeled him Osama Bin Laden’s “spiritual advisor.” It emerged […]

The things I love don’t belong to me–life in Mexico City

There’s a bottle of Jimador brand tequila, half full, in the kitchen, the remains of a conversation about the Mexican student movement. But I didn’t buy it. The bottle of J&B holds just one swig and I never touched. It landed in my kitchen after a book party I didn’t attend, brought over by someone […]

A Narco’s Case Against the U.S.-what Zambada’s case reveals about the violence and ‘war’ in Mexico-Salon.com

This piece appeared on Salon.com on November 14, 2011 CIUDAD MIER, Mexico — A Mexican army commander sent to protect a region of villages and ranches in northern Mexico from the Gulf Cartel and Zetas can describe, in detail, the profile of his assigned enemy, the country’s notorious drug cartels. “These guys are sick in […]

“Against Mexico_the making of heroes and enemies” on PBS

PBS.org has acquired Against Mexico-the making of heroes and enemies a short documentary film that I produced and directed. Against Mexico enters the world of historical reenactments of Texas’ ‘fight for freedom’ to explore the nexus of myth and history in creating images of heroes and enemies and its implication for who is entitled to […]