Monday, March 22, 2010

Mexican Drug War Goes Magical

Since late 2006, when Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on his country's drug trafficking cartels, violence between police and cartel forces has accelerated at an alarming pace.

The pre-dawn discovery of two bodies cut into pieces and shoved into two black bags brought a tragic end Monday to a search for two missing police officers in the southern state of Guerrero.

Law enforcement officials say the bagged body parts were found at 3:15 a.m. outside police headquarters in Guerrero's capital city, Chipancingo.


On Sunday, gunmen killed a bodyguard and wounded three other people during the attempted assassination of a police chief in northeast Mexico, state authorities said.

The bodyguard of Rene Castillo Sanchez, head of security in the city of Santa Catarina, was killed during the attack and three other people were wounded, said a spokesman for the Nuevo Leon state investigative agency.

In this dangerous environment, it is perhaps no surprise that Mexican police officers have turned to magical practices intended to keep them safe from harm.

In secret meetings that draw on elements of Haitian Voodoo, Cuban Santeria and Mexican witchcraft, priests are slaughtering chickens on full moon nights on beaches, smearing police with the blood and using prayers to evoke spirits to guard them as drug cartels battle over smuggling routes into California.

Other police in the city of Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, tattoo their bodies with Voodoo symbols, believing they can repel bullets.

"Sometimes a man needs another type of faith," said former Tijuana policeman Marcos, who left the city force a year ago after surviving a drug gang attack. "I was saved when they killed two of my mates. I know why I didn't die."

Perhaps this individual's survival was just coincidence, but when you get right down to it either magick works or it doesn't. Obviously a tattoo won't literally repel a bullet, but I've heard of enough cases of guns jamming and inexplicitly missing their targets in the face of magical influence that I wouldn't be surprised if such practices offered these officers some degree of protection.

As one might expect, it's not just police officers who are making use of spells. The drug cartels are apparently using magick as well, to curse the authorities and presumably evade detection and arrest. This creates a sort of magical arms race in which each side seeks to neutralize the paranormal influences employed by the other.

Many police see a need to shield themselves from witchcraft used by drug gangs who mix Caribbean black magic and occultism from southern Mexico using things like human bones, dead bats and snake fangs to curse enemies and unleash evil spirits.

Skeptics generally cite mass hysteria as the root of situations such as these, and clearly it plays a role - if you think your enemies are using effective magick against you, whether or not they are, you'll probably be motivated to look for the best possible counterspells. However, in my years of magical practice I've seen enough effective magick that I know skilled practitioners can get tangible results, so I would expect those police officers who employ magick might actually be more likely to survive the conflict.

I would love to have a data set like that to analyze for possible patterns, but given the chaotic nature of the conflict I'm guessing that it will unfortunately never be available in any useful form.

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