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Special Report: SicarioUpdated: Nov 24, 2015 04:23 PM
MCALLEN - Gunfights, drugs and women – the life lived running in the streets of Mexico, running from the law.
No one can quit the cartel or they may end up dead. One man shares his story of what being a cartel killer was, what pulled him in and what got him out of a deep, dark place in the middle of a cartel war.
“I was going with the intention to die. I didn’t want to live anymore. I wanted to be with my dad,” the man said.
Cancer robbed “Antonio’s” dad of life and suicide took it. “I could not help him. I feel so bad. I felt like I failed him,” he said.
Tragedy sometimes drives good people to do bad things. “I started the training. I started killing people. I went in as a sicario,” he said.
Sicario, a hitman, is trained to fight and kill. “I had training for three months. They trained everybody how to shoot, how to kill, and that was a choice that I never had second thoughts,” he said.
“Antonio” was part of a Mexican cartel. He said he inflicted pain, trying to numb his own. “I didn’t want to live. I just wanted to die,” he said. “Night after night, day after day, you don’t sleep, you don’t eat. You don’t shower. You live in fear.”
“Antonio” turned his death wish into a determination to kill others. He said it was a tough life. He wanted to die in battle, which would be his way out. “What happens is a lot of young people admire sicarios, because they see it as somebody with weapons,” he said. “I was one of those people who do something without thinking.”
The luxuries of the narco life are promised, but most don’t make it to a cartel hitman. “Everything they offer: cars, money, women, I didn’t join with that in mind,” he said.
“Antonio” said he eventually became an estaca. His job was to watch the streets. “As an estaca you live day by day, night after night. In the middle of gun battles, you don’t know what time you’re going to die or when you’re going to die,” he said.
He killed anyone who he thought might be a threat to their organization. “You don’t know when you’re going to die. You know you’re going to die, and you’re living afraid if you’re going to be dead,” he said.
The drugs flowed around him, not through his veins. “When I was an estaca, I was not doing drugs. I was not using marijuana and cocaine, because I had to stay 100 percent to take care of my life,” he said.
“Antonio” tried getting out to find legitimate work. It was hard. He stayed angry. “After two months, I went back again. But now in the city, being a bodyguard and a high-ranking cartel took me with him. He told me that you’re going to work for me. You’re going to take care of me,” he said.
Next for “Antonio” came drugs, women and money. “I was high every day, for four years. Every day, cocaine, marijuana, I didn’t drink alcohol. There was infinite amount of cocaine,” he said. “Why I did that was because I had to do it. I was taking care of somebody day and night.”
“Antonio” said he had reasons for his actions. “I believe doing that I was relieving my fears. Every day when we were chased or to take care of this person, that’s the narco life. Drugs after drugs, women, hurt people when we receive orders,” he said.
He doesn’t know how many he killed. “A bunch, a bunch, bunches, there is no compassion,” he said.
The life of fighting, sex and drugs eventually ended. However, there are only two ways to exit a cartel: prison or death.
“Antonio” said he got a break.
“I was resting and the next day I woke up and went to my mom’s. I say hi and gave her money, talked to my brothers and they (cartel men) came to pick me up,” he said.
The Mexican military spotted the truck and started to chase them. “They shot our vehicle. I crashed under a trailer and the soldiers arrested me,” he said.
Lawmen in Mexico battle the cartels. Arrests meant torture, especially if someone is armed.
“They found the arsenal I had. They beat me. They tortured me psychologically and physically,” “Antonio” said.
The torture included cruel games. “They were going to kill me. They put the rifle on my head and it didn’t shoot. They were saying ‘Kill him, kill him.’ At that moment, they fired and the weapon didn’t bang,” he said.
The abuse continued. Then suddenly, one day they let him go. He doesn’t know why. He had no bond. “Antonio” decided the release was a sign from God.
“Because God’s will was to not hurt me. Because when I plea to God, do your will, just forgive me for what I did to hurt so many people,” he said.
“Antonio” walked out of prison, detoxed from drugs. His mother was outside waiting. “I was not realizing that night after night, she was waiting to hear that her son was dead. I was not realizing how bad I was hurting my mom,” he said.
“Antonio” knew he needed a way out now, killing others could mean death for his family. “I said why, why? I’m thinking of my family. What if they do that to my family? What am I going to do,” he recalled.
Eventually, “Antonio” made his way into the United States. He said he left the cartel and that life behind. “I’m in a process. I’m in a process of my mind is not the same. Thanks to God my mind is not the same,” he said.
The former sicario turned to religion, a local church still helps him. They keep him busy. He said God’s hand is on him.
“I realize how much He did to save my life. He got me here. He got me working honestly. I just have to thank Him. That’s what makes me continue,” he said.
These days “Antonio” spends his time talking with teens. “They (cartel members) are not heroes,” he said. He tells them the promises of narco life are lies.
“You can enjoy drugs, but there will be a time where you’ll feel inside black, rotten, without sense,” he said.
“Antonio” tells them they will realize their life means nothing. “You are a disposable item, like a plate or cup, disposable. It breaks, they grab another one for them, and you don’t matter,” he said.
Memories of the past still linger over him. “Sometime I have low thoughts, but that is because God saves you. But it’s not that fast. He cannot erase your mind. He cannot erase your entire mind,” he said.
“Antonio” is determined to make his life count for the future.