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Mexican Drug War Dispatch: The Life and Death of Kingpin Don Arturo Beltran Leyva

In Mexico, if you call someone "Don," it means you respect him to the extreme, and even fear him. Some people still don't believe he's dead.

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In his bedroom, which was full of bullet holes, the Marines found brand new Hugo Boss clothes, some still with the price tags, a bible, many family pictures, images of the Virgen de Guadalupe, and some badass green crocodile-skin boots.

“They could have lived, because from the beginning we told him to surrender and he didn’t accept it. He fought to the death,” said a Marine who participated in the raid.

Don Arturo was photographed with his pants below his knees and his body covered in both Mexican and American bills. The Marines did this to “discredit” him and make an example of him, I guess. (This already is creating problems for the Government, which is being accused of exhibiting the body of the drug lord as a propaganda trophy.) They were acting all tough, but everyone was still shit-scared about the possibility that a backup squadron of sicarios would attempt to rescue the body of “el jefe de jefes.” So even after they killed him, something like 500 additional units arrived to guard the bodies!

The body was claimed by his 3 sisters so he can receive a proper burial, probably in his birthplace in Sinaloa. Expect a big-ass mausoleum worthy of a goddamn Persian Shah.

The only question that stands after this events is: why did they REALLY kill him? Some would say it was a result of President Calderon´s war on drugs, others would say that he wasn’t captured alive because of the names of government people he could reveal. Which is all true, but the real question is WHO benefits from his death? Not the Mexican people; it was well known that he was the only narco that the government could “deal” with, even the Mexican armed forces come out losers. Power will shift and restructure, and like tectonic plates shifting and settling, it’s gonna cause a lot of tremors. There might even be a volcanic eruption or two.

The Beltran cartel will restructure itself according to the strength of its top operators: Edgar Valdes Villarreal “La Barbie”, a Laredo Texan with talent for the killing; Mario Beltran Leyva “El General”, most likely the next in line to lead the cartel; and Sergio Villarreal “El Grande,” a two-meter-tall guy who referred to Don Arturo as apá (or dad). All itching to pull the cuernos (AK47) and make the erres (R15) roar. Let’s hope that cooler heads prevail and they don’t go pointing their guns at a Navy Admiral or something counterproductive like that.

But however the Beltran cartel achieves its corporate restructuring, the two biggest beneficiaries of Don Arturo’s demise are a) his allies, the Zetas; and b) his enemy “El Chapo.”

So buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride in 2010.

PS: The death of Arturo Beltran doesn’t serve as an example to society that you shouldn’t follow his path, because when all doors are locked and one has to choose between dying of hunger in a fucked up situation or becoming a millionaire for even a brief time, they will always choose the second option. That’s exactly the feeling that many Mexicans share: one would rather die rich than live being poor.

The King is dead, long live the King.

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