Drug runners feeling squeeze as NFVS diminishes luster of outlaw life
(Mexico City) – Santiago Jaso Cabello, known better internationally as La Rata Gruñendo (The Growling Rat), sits on the back porch of his secret mountain villa sipping lemonade from a tall, perspiring glass discussing the new challenges his industry has faced since the end of violence.
Speaking through a translator, La Rata Gruñendo is morose about the state of his business, “It wasn’t like this before, it’s never been like this. Before when we had a problem with a rival cartel, or the government launched an offensive against us, we would just kill lots of people and scare the hell out of everyone in the most creative ways we could come up with. Now it’s all just talking and talking and talking. There’s no art anymore.”
The drug kingpin isn’t the only one in the drug game who feels this way. According to sources within each of the top three Mexican cartels, without violence the life of a bandito outlaw no longer attracts the impressionable youths the cartels have historically used to swell their ranks. While new recruits are increasingly scarce, veteran employees are also choosing to pursue other careers.
“It just didn’t have the same thrill anymore,” says Diego Javier Rivera, a former cartel enforcer now working as a grocery bagger at a small bodega outside Mexico City, “It became all about numbers and quotas and margins and less about beheadings and torture. Writing reports on quarterly coca yields isn’t why I got into the business.”
In an industry requiring a great deal of institutional knowledge from its employees, this new high-turnover rate is causing major headaches. Without specialization and lifetime employment commitments from employees, some cartels have been forced to turn to temporary hiring agencies.
“We were first contacted by the Cabra Negro Cartel’s human resources department maybe two months ago,” remembers Gabriel Padilla Falto, manager of a local temp agency, “They were looking for young adult males with loose morals, but I only had a few of those. It seems they were desperate, so they really just took anybody we had.”
The influx of workers untrained in the tricks of the trade has meant more shipments seized by the government, more missed deadlines, and a tighter bottom-line for organizations used to the free-flow of massive capital.
Back at La Rata Gruñendo’s, the changes are beginning to take a personal toll, “If the business stays like this I might have to sell my place in Martha’s Vineyard and leave the game altogether. It’s starting to feel like it isn’t worth the hassle anymore.”
As the cartels have waned, multi-national corporations have stepped in to take their place and fill growing demand. Many drug aficionado’s poo-poo these new mass-produced corporate products and continue to seek out traditionally grown substances.
A self-declared ‘drugie’, the newly repurposed slang word meaning one who seeks out artisanal drugs, Jordan Maxwell of Denver puts it thusly, “Corporations are getting into, like, everything and ruining these, like, traditional family businesses. You gotta stop them, like, somewhere right? You know that quote, ‘First they came for my weed, and I said nothing’…or something like that. You gotta stand for something.”