By David Codrea.
“In Mexico, where criminals are armed to the teeth…the country has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world,” NPR reports. “Law-abiding Mexicans who want a gun to defend themselves have no good options. Either they fight government red tape to get a legal permit, or they buy one on the black market.”
This is illustrated with deadly seriousness in the story of Colonia LeBaron, a community in Chihuahua founded by a sect of “breakaway” Mormons. Following kidnappings and murders of their members by cartel thugs, the community armed itself in order to provide the protection their government can’t and won’t.
In cases where there is no one to band with, individuals often just give up. I recently was a guest on Houston-based American Trigger Sports Network (ATSN.tv), and fellow panelist Barbara Crown of “The Hunting Report” (HuntingReport.com) relayed stories of how some Mexican hunts must now be conducted under the protection of armed guards, and how some ranch owners have given up hunting their own lands due to cartels appropriating their property for supply routes. The hapless ranchers must now book their own hunting excursions in regions with less conflict—assuming they don’t just flee their homes altogether.
Which brings us to the story of a man who did not surrender and relinquish what was his, who left us with an example of determination, courage and principle, and who was nonetheless doomed by his government’s failures and the reality that there are too few like him.
Don Alejo Garza Tamez, 77, was a rancher and respected businessman. A cartel wanted his property and gave him 24 hours to vacate—or else. Instead, he told the criminals he would be waiting for them, and told his workers to take the next day off.
“He dedicated the rest of Saturday to taking stock of his weapons and ammunition and creating a military fortress-style defense strategy for his home,” Borderland Beat reported.
A lifelong hunter, Don Alejo had amassed a collection of weapons, something only a man of means could afford. When the thugs drove up Sunday morning in trucks firing guns and expecting no resistance, he was waiting for them with guns at each window, returning fire with precision, forcing the astonished invaders to resort to grenades. When the smoke cleared, Don Alejo was dead. So were four of his attackers, with another two wounded and presumed dead by their fleeing associates.
That the Mexican government insists on maintaining its monopoly of violence only means they and the cartels will continue the carnage. But there are unintended consequences, as ordinary people, sick of living in fear, are beginning to fight back—desperately, and at times adopting the terror tactics of their persecutors.
Los Matas Zetas (“The Zeta-Killers”) have begun killing cartel members, even beheading some on videotape. Per LiveLeak.com, “They claim they are civilians who have had family members killed in the drug war violence and that they want revenge.”
That’s what you end up with when a corrupt system betrays those like Don Alejo, who simply want freedom and dignity.