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The Drug War Gets Personal

His cousin Bruno is in this cemetery. He was 27 years old when he was shot and killed on Martinez's wedding anniversary. He was struck in the torso by two bullets while crossing a shopping center parking lot. Police caught the shooter that same evening -- a 13-year-old boy from Juárez who named no motive.

"Please Sal, go get him," a cousin told him at the funeral. Martinez visited the killer's mother in the slums of Juárez to find out why the shooting had occurred, but she was silent.

Three years after Bruno's death, the phone rang in Martinez's office. He was with an informant, a police officer from Mexico, Jaime Jañez, who sold him information about cartels. It was Susie, who said that the killer had been released and was back in Juárez.

Martinez hung up the phone and said nothing. Jañez said he knew a few people in Juárez who owed him a favor. Martinez and Jañez met up a few more times, and Martinez paid him a total of $10,000 of the DEA's money intended for information. One day Jañez asked whether Martinez wanted the boy killed, and he said yes.

A few weeks later, Martinez was sitting with two FBI agents in a room during a training session. He thought the men were going to tell him something about the cooperation between the DEA and the FBI. Instead, they read him his Miranda rights.

They asked Martinez if he wanted to tell his story. He replied that he wanted to speak with his lawyer.

He doesn't know why Jañez gave him up. Perhaps because he was a law-abiding citizen, or perhaps the FBI paid handsomely for such information. Jañez was wearing a wire during their meetings, and the FBI had them on tape and video. Martinez pled guilty and the court sentenced him to 87 months in prison for attempted murder. Martinez had become a police officer to put away evil people, but in the end, it came down to one criminal chasing another, the difference being that one had cocaine in his pocket and the other an American police I.D.

'Legalization Feels Wrong'In prison, Martinez learned that there were a few prisoners who were in even more danger than child molesters -- police officers.

Martinez told no one who he was or that he had worked for the DEA. If someone asked him why he was there, he said money laundering. If someone asked him his profession, he said he was a teacher. If someone asked anything more, he said: "You've already asked your two questions for the month."

He didn't have a single friend during his seven years in prison. He was alone with himself and his thoughts. He wondered whether people would be happier if the American drug police stopped hunting smugglers with Black Hawk helicopters. Or whether, if drugs were legal and accepted, there would be no cartels or drug police, making it possible to go drink tequila in Juárez in the evening. Then he wouldn't have told the Mexican commandant to make criminals disappear. And he wouldn't have met Jaime Jañez, and maybe Bruno would still be alive and Martinez would be free and able to hold his wife in his arms.

"Legalization just feels wrong," he says today. "We must protect America from drugs."

In 2006, when Martinez was behind bars, the then-Mexican President Felipe Calderón said: "I know that restoring security won't be easy, and will cost a lot of money and, unfortunately, human life. But rest assured that in this fight, I will be standing on the front lines." Martinez read about it in the newspaper and thought it was a good idea. In cooperation with the US, Calderón deployed soldiers in his own country to fight drug traffickers. Since then, the cartels and the army have been fighting each other in Ciudad Juárez with rocket-propelled grenades.

In prison, Martinez developed his own opinion of his actions. Today, he says that he was innocent. What he did wasn't right, but it also wasn't wrong, he says. He was simply applying the methods he had learned. On Independence Day, Martinez laid his head against the concrete so he could look outside through a slit under a window. He saw a firework in the distance, and an American flag flying on the prison watchtower. Martinez often tells of such scenes, which seem like they could have been thought up by a screenplay writer. If he could make a film about his own life, it would include a lot of violins.

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 99

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