THE MEXICAN DRUG WAR: The peaceful Raramuri make easy prey for drug cartels

If you’ve watched the popular TV series Breaking Bad with crystal meth-making chemistry teacher Walter White, you are most likely aware that drug production and dealing across the U.S.-Mexico border is big business. Throughout history, Mexico has played a major role in the trafficking of narcotics and contraband between Latin American and U.S. markets, largely due to its geographic location. Over the past few decades, Mexican drug cartels or trafficking organizations have grown to dominate the illicit wholesale drug market and rates of drug-related violence have sky-rocketed in the fight for control of lucrative trafficking routes into the United States. In 2006, in an attempt to clamp down on powerful drug cartels, Mexican President Felipe Calderón began an aggressive military offensive. But since then, the bloodshed and violence has only increased. Every year, thousands of drug-related deaths are reported in the savage struggle between Mexican drug cartels and the state.

The state of Chihuahua is one of Mexico’s worse-hit areas for drug-related violence, with some villages losing half of their population through fights between drug gangs. Among those caught up on the front line of the drug war are the Raramuri, a quiet and reclusive Indigenous tribe renowned for their superhuman running abilities. Their home, the Sierra Madre, is one of the most productive drug-growing regions on Earth. Brutal drug lords force the Raramuri to grow crops for them, under pain of death if they refuse, and they are paid little or nothing for their services. Some drug traffickers even put the Indigenous tribe’s remarkable running skills to criminal use, recruiting impoverished Raramuri Indians as drug mules. Instead of running free, they are sent on gruelling running missions to ferry drugs across the border to the U.S. If you get a chance to watch the episode on the Raramuri trail runners, you will learn how the runners’ hopes are dashed when drug-related incidents put a question mark over the Ultramaratón Caballo Blanco event.
Jul 2, 2015
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