When I picked up the paper this and read the headlines, “Cartels promise riches, lure teens into life of murder”, it utterly broke my heart. Here was the story of a 13-year old who became a hit man for a Mexican drug cartel. Normally, he would be in middle school, still a baby. What possible use could he be to a cartel?
Rosalio Reta is nineteen now and in prison serving, what amounts to, a life sentence. His ink smudge tattooed face makes him look like a hoodoo man from the aboriginal outback or a tribal Indian wearing war paint. It makes him look fierce and frightening. But this is just prima facie for an underlying crippled personality, marred by the depravations of his youth.
Nobody knows how the young man feels inside, but I have noticed others like him with the tattoo of a teardrop on their face. And, in this cover story, Reta doesn’t look happy at all. He must feel like his life is gone to the devil.
The Organized Crime World is ritualistic and satanic, and purposely so. At the top of the food chain is the man so rich and cruel that his underlings think of him as the incarnation of the Devil, and they his worshipers. Once a young man has sold his soul, he cannot redeem it. It’s one way into the Organize Crime World and no way out.
Young Reta probably realizes that by now and regrets it.
I have seen the bait and hook used by Organized Crime, and I know the rules of the game. The bait is the illusion of wealth and pleasure. Young men are enticed by money, fancy cars, and women. The hook is when the master gains ownership. The only way out is death.
There is a rule in the crime world that prohibits me from trying to rescue someone from the clutches of the devil. The rule is this: I can do everything within my power and crusade all I wish to save a kid from a life of crime. But once snared, I cannot forcefully remove him against his will. This was made clear to me when I met face-to-face with a would-be assassin in hand-to-hand duel.
The rules say that it is not healthy to snitch on a kingpin who has the child in his grasp and under his power. Neither is it healthy to try and cut off the syndicate’s cash flow. This is the job of law enforcement. It is especially dangerous for civilians because they have no idea that sometimes law enforcement is infiltrated and some officials may be on the devil’s payroll. A wrong word to the wrong person can turn a do-good act into a tragedy.
I can crusade like a man crying in the wind without fear of retaliation from gangsters. In that respect, I live on the other side of the parallel universe oblivious to the Organize Crime World. But I cannot cross the line, especially knowing what I know about the other side.
Reta talks about his experiences as a teenage hit man, how he was given a new $70,000 Mercedes for a job well done. He describes the lifestyle and incentives in the drug trade, the glamour, drugs, women, and lavish allurements that only a poor kid could taste in his dreams.
How can you tell him not to want? Do not touch? I remember how stupid we sounded when we pitted our revolutionary ideologies against neighborhood drug kingpins. We had nothing to offer. They did. We decried materialism, but we were no match for the fancy clothes and good times. In the end, this was how our community went from the Black Panther age, from revolutionaries seeking political power, to a generation of pimps, players, Crips, and Bloods. We lost the propaganda war at the street level. The struggle boiled down to “Money, money, money”, and poor people would do anything for “the almighty dollar.
It amazes me how the same tricks and traps can work repeatedly on our kids. More than 10,000 Mexicans left dead in the last 18 months. Before that, it was the drug wars between the Crips and Bloods, same inducement, same pattern.
I admit that I don’t know who’s killing who. But I do know that gang violence and shootings are more about selling guns and bullets, than it is about revenge. It is a profitable trade when every hood rat on the block wants a Glock. Just pull the string and they’ll shoot somebody. The designated target is usually a rival gang or gang member. The same gun dealer sells to them both, and no doubt foment the tension between them by contract killings on both sides. This pattern fuels the sell guns and bullets, while those who pull the strings get richer and richer than those who pull the trigger.
Youngsters like Reta are only cannon fodder. But there is a part of his story that gives the reader a brief glimpse of what happens behind the scene.
[Note: This portion of the story is included in the Star-Telegram but edited out of the New York Times version of the story]
“Reta also told police that he had attended a training camp in Mexico for six months, where he learned to shoot assault rifles and engage in hand-to-hand combat. One of the instructors, he said, was an Israeli mercenary. Reta was also proud of his marksmanship.”
Here is a training camp for hit men, much like terrorist training camps of al-Qaeda. These teenagers are acclimated to their assault rifles and trained by individuals familiar with the weapon.
Where did these guns come from? Who sold them to the cartels? Gun running has always been a side business for those who profited from war and conflict, such as the time when they sold guns to Indian and fire water whiskey to give them courage to use them. The Crips and Bloods was a good underworld market for gun runners during their long bitter rivalry. As long as a war goes on, there will always be a market for illegal weapons and ammunition.
It is said of E.I. DuPont that he sold munitions and explosives to both sides in every war.
The Organized Crime World realized long ago that if a child commits murder at a certain age he would be treated as a juvenile under the law. But Poor Reta, even with his fierce satanic looking tattooed face, he looks more like Bozo the Clown than he does a gangster hit man.
How could he, as an immature child, know that after his first hit there was no way out of the game? Didn’t he know that someone was pulling his string, that he was simply doing the devil’s bidding? It was not he who chose the target, but the target was chosen for him.
Didn’t he know that dirty cops were on the payroll in Mexico, if not also in the United States, that judges and lawyers are bought and sold by the underworld syndicate?
Didn’t he know that he was expendable? Why didn’t his single mother teach him these things? Why didn’t they teach him these things in school? Why didn’t law enforcement forewarn him?
Does anyone know?