The Black Hand: The Story of Rene “Boxer” Enriquez and His Life in the Mexican Mafia-Chris Blatchford

indexLatin America continues to struggle with poverty, gangs and rising murder rates.  Central America and northern South America are rife with turmoil due in part to the continuing pattern of political instability.  The surge in homicides have made the region one of the most violent places on earth.  Honduras is now the deadliest country in Latin America and has the highest murder rate in the world.  The devastating effects of famine and economic depravity have combined with the proliferation of MS-13 (Mara-Salvatrucha) to make life utterly unbearable for the majority of Hondurans.  The rise of MS-13 and other Latin American gangs has not gone unnoticed.  The gang culture has spread north and taken hold in the United States with California becoming a stronghold of gang activity.  And shockingly, nearly half of all gang members in the United States are Hispanic American.

Beginning in 1973, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began to watch a new gang that proved to be as violent and ruthless as any this country has ever seen, the Mexican Mafia.  They have been glorified on the silver screen, most notably in the film ‘American Me’ starring Edward James Olmos.  But the reality is that the real Mexican Mafia is far stronger and far more dangerous than portrayed in the film.  Rene “Boxer” Enriquez teams up with author Chris Blackford in recounting his life as former member of the gang, telling all in this memoir that is guaranteed to leave you speechless.  In 2003, Enriquez was still a ranking member of the gang, but the loss of several loved ones, a brother with health issues and the realization that the gang he swore allegiance to didn’t swear allegiance to him, he decided to step away and become a cooperating witness for the U.S. government.  His testimony has proven to be critical in the apprehension and subsequent incarceration of members of the Mexican Mafia.   He has also become a motivational speaker in the hope of preventing young men and women from making his mistakes.   As of today he is still incarcerated and the possibility of parole is uncertain.

It is with remarkable courage and self-examination that Enriquez is able to tell us his life story.  He does not glamorize the gang life and admits to his failures.  The book is gritty, sad but the reality that awaits young men and women enticed by the fast lifestyle enjoyed by gang members.  Sadly, there will be young adults who readily accept a life on the streets believing that they are invincible or too intelligent to make the same mistakes as Enriquez.  But there others who may read this book and make a decision that will ultimately save their lives.  So take a seat and follow Enriquez as he takes us deep inside the Mexican Mafia and all that is has to offer.

ISBN-10: 0061257303
ISBN-13: 978-0061257308

The Daughters of Jaurez: A True Story of Serial Murder South of the Border- Teresa Rodriguez

113869301Beginning in 1993, female homicides in Juárez City, Mexico began to increase at an alarming rate.  Tragically, the overwhelming majority of the crimes have gone unsolved denying the families of the victims their day in court for justice for the loss of their loved ones.  The city was founded in 1659 and sits across the United States border from the town of El Paso, Texas.  In 2010, there were on average 8.5 killings per day in Juarez City.  Drug cartels and drifters from the U.S. have maintained an iron grip on the city making it one of the most places on earth.   In recent years, the murder rate has declined and the city continues to make progress in reinventing itself and its image.  However, the struggle with its dark past and deadly trend of femicide that has not fully ceased continues to haunt Juarez.  Teresa Rodriguez, a correspondent for Univision, has conducted her own investigation into the murders resultng in this chilling and informative account that reveals the severity of an epidemic that continues to plague Mexico.

Their names are not known worldwide and their families are simple and hardworking.  But their murders and the inaction of the Mexican government and complicity of local police reveal a system in which officials are unwilling and unable to stop the crisis that has gripped the country.  In their faces we see our sisters, mothers, aunts, nieces and friends.   Most of the women are from low income poverty stricken areas who work brutally long hours barely earning a minimum wage. They are often faced with a long commute on deserted stretches of roads that serve as a haven for criminal elements.  Some of the women are never seen again becoming yet another statistic is a growing list of violent murders and sexual assaults.  Rodriguez’s book is a dark premonition of things that will come if the Mexican government fails to address the crisis.  For hundreds of women in Juárez there is no justice and their families are left to grieve without the benefit of closure.  Their cries have been ignored and the deadly trend that was once confined to Juarez has now spread to other parts of Mexico including Toluca, a city I visited in December, 2013.

Mexico is a beautiful country, full of history, good food and beautiful people.   Yet it is plagued by extreme violence fueled by the drug trade and a disturbing pattern of femicide that has never been confronted.   Vice News, the international news organization based in Brooklyn, New York, recently did a story on the rise of the female homicides in Mexico and the struggles the families of the victims face in obtaining justice.  The people of Mexico face a long road in reversing the disturbing trend of murders but as more attention is drawn to the crisis, it might result in long overdue action by the Mexican government.   And authors such as Teresa Rodriguez continue to do their part in exposing a regrettable, tragic and hauntingly disturbing trend.

ISBN-10: 0743292049
ISBN-13: 978-0743292047