Dark History: Mexico’s Drug Cartels – Part 4

By Christopher Zoukis / BlogCritics.org

Things continued to get worse. In 2010, the Gulf Cartel killed a member of the Zetas, Victor Mendoza Perez. Los Zetas declared war on the Gulf Cartel. Bloody battles, using explosives and helicopters, broke out all over. The news media refused to cover the clashes or report the number of dead bodies because the cartels had a nasty habit of murdering news reporters and editors who published such information.   Arturo Beltran Leyva / “The Beard”

The Zetas hooked up with the Juarez Cartel, the Tijuana Cartel and the Beltran Leyva Cartel. On the other side was the Gulf Cartel, along with the Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia.

In Taxco, authorities located a garbage dump that did not contain garbage. Instead, it held the decomposing bodies of 55 people, all murdered by the Beltran Leyva Cartel. The dead bodies were the work of Edgar Valdez Villarreal aka “Barbie,” who received the nickname because he resembled Barbie’s boyfriend Ken. Six and a half feet tall, Barbie had green eyes and long blond hair. Barbie was the leader of a gang called Los Negros, who acted as enforcers for the Beltran Leyva Cartel. Los Negros was supposed to be the Beltran Leyva Cartel’s version of what the Zetas were before they wandered off the reservation and went solo.

Shorty Guzman and his gangsters kept on slugging it out with Arturo “The Beard” Beltran Leyva and his rowdy bunch. The Beard wasn’t as careful about his whereabouts as Shorty was. The Federales received lots of tips about where The Beard could be found. Most of the tips were bogus. People were just looking for a thrill, a sense of self-importance or the chance to make some easy money by collecting the 30 million peso reward offered for information leading to the capture or death of The Beard. Still, the Federales followed up on all the tips, just in case one of them might pan out.

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New eBook: Directory of Federal Prisons

By Christopher Zoukis Today I’m proud to announce the release of my latest title, the Directory of Federal Prisons: PrisonLawBlog.com’s Federal Bureau of Prisons Facility Directory by Christopher Zoukis and Dr. Randall Radic (Middle Street Publishing, 2014). This ebook provides the official contact information (e.g., street address, phone number, fax number, and email address) for […]

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Movie Review: The Eagle

By Christopher Zoukis Image courtesy rottentomatoes.com The military standard of the Roman Empire – more accurately known as SPQR (the senate and people of Rome) – was an eagle fabricated of gold.  No enemy was ever allowed to take and hold the eagle.  If, by chance, an eagle was lost to the enemy, the might […]

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Dark History: Mexico’s Drug Cartels – Part 3

By Christopher Zoukis / BlogCritics.org

Most of the Sinaloa Cartel’s gangbangers were from MS-13, Mara Salvatrucha. In other words, they were rough boys from El Salvador and the Honduras. With a reputation for brutal violence, MS-13 gangs were the baddest of the bad asses. Only it turned out the Zetas were badder, making the MS-13 gangbangers look like three-year olds at a church picnic. Using heavy weapons and military tactics, the Zetas chopped MS-13 into bits and pieces.


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The leader of the Zetas was Heriberto Lazcano, a twenty-eight year old former GAFE officer whose nickname was “The Executioner.” Lazcano intended to hang onto his territory.
The war was on.

Lazcano, realizing he needed more men, initiated a new recruiting strategy. He advertised. Banners hung from overpasses and bridges got right to the point: “We offer you a good salary, food, and attention for your family.” One advertisement stated: “Join the ranks of the Gulf Cartel. We offer benefits, life insurance, a house for your family and children. Stop living in the slums and riding the bus.”

It worked. Soldiers and ex-soldiers flocked in droves to join up. Lazcano recruited heavily in Guatemala, home of the Kaibil commandos, who really were the baddest of the bad. The motto of the Kaibiles was: “If I retreat, kill me.” Recruiting wasn’t Lazcano’s only talent; he also had a head for business. Zetas troops earned money for the organization through extortion, shaking down anyone and everyone: marijuana growers, dealers, local businesses, restaurants, even car dealerships.

Somewhere in this period of time, Lazcano and his Zetas went from being enforcers for the Gulf Cartel to being their own cartel. The Zetas made their own deals and moved their own product.

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Bloods Redux

By Christopher Zoukis 

History

According to Julia Dunn, a gang “is an interstitial group, original formed spontaneously, and then integrated through conflict.”  The term ‘interstitial’ refers to a culturally isolated or marginalized group of individuals, who, because of external circumstances (racism, lack of education, unemployment), have been left behind.  These individuals adopt a ‘strength through numbers’ attitude, assume collective standards of behavior, develop ad hoc structures of hierarchy and esprit de corps.  They identify with others of similar circumstances and exhibit territorial tendencies.   Image courtesy coolchaser.com

After World War I, African-American enclaves sprouted up in the urban areas of major cities with the United States.  In the 1920s, Los Angeles encompassed large black conclaves, where unemployment was prevalent and poverty was the norm.  Within these enclaves, family members and friends banded together into loose, unorganized associations that were, for the most part, non-violent.  For lack of a better term, these associations came to be known as gangs.  The gangs of this historical time were non-territorial.  The primary function of such gangs was to present a ‘tough guy’ image and facilitate the accumulation of easy money by means of prostitution, forgery and theft.

Well-known gangs of this period – the 1920s and 1930s – included the Goodlows, the Kelleys, the Magnificents, the Driver Brothers, the Boozies and the Bloodgetts.  During the following decade, the 1940s, black gangs increased their numbers, along with their activities, which now included extortion and gambling, in addition to the usual prostitution, forgery and theft.  They provided ‘protection’ for local merchants, which was nothing more than simple coercion.  Merchants paid for the privilege of not having their places of business torched by their so-called protectors.

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Seven Books Every American Prisoner and Criminal Attorney Should Own

By Christopher Zoukis / BlogCritics.org

It’s not always easy to locate quality legal books about prison law or prisoners’ rights. For starters, the field is a highly specialized one in which many like to call themselves experts, but few are worthy of such a designation. To make matters worse, lives depend on what is read and put into application. Even from a practical level, law books are often so expensive that simply purchasing several of them in pursuit of the right set is plainly cost prohibitive.

In an effort to cut through all of the blatant self-promotion and other unworthy antics, presented below are seven best buys in the prison law and prisoners’ rights arenas. Every criminal defense attorney, prison consultant, and American prisoner should have a copy of each and every one of these books. After all, their lives or the lives of their clients might just depend on it.

1. Georgetown Law Journal: Forty-Second Annual Review of Criminal Procedure, 2013. The bedrock text for incarcerated litigants and their attorneys seeking to challenge criminal convictions and sentences, “the Georgetown” — as it is commonly and affectionately called in the prison litigation industry — is a must have. An annually updated, quality legal text, the Georgetown presents the most recent developments in criminal case law. While focused mostly on federal practice, its chapters encompass everything from initial search and arrest to trial and even all the way to post-conviction motions. This book is an entire law library, but all within one cover.  Image courtesy prisonlawblog.com

2. Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual (4th Edition) by John Boston and Daniel E. Manville. Considered by many to be the definitive work on prisoners’ rights, the Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual is exactly what the title suggests. This massive book provides a blueprint for litigating in court, even if this litigation must be initiated in a prison cell. It not only presents the actual legal rights of prisoners, but also how to enforce those rights in any court in the land, and includes well-drafted sample pleadings. This book is a must-have for anyone in prison and everyone who has incarcerated clients.

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Interview: Barbara Carole, Author of ‘Twelve Stones’


By Christopher Zoukis / February 4, 2014


 

         Today, I’m pleased to interview Barbara Carole about her memoir Twelve Stones which tells the story of an intensely personal, unorthodox journey to faith.  Gritty, plain-spoken and fast paced, this book reads like a novel – with vibrant characters, dialogue and action on three continents – but it is all true.

          Barbara, a Fulbright scholar and graduate of the University of Wisconsin with B.A. and M.A. degrees in literature, lived in Paris for several years as a translator and assistant editor at the Paris Review before returning to the USA to teach French and French literature at UCLA.

            Subsequently, she was a writer and researcher for undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, working in Los Angeles and Monaco, France. 

Barbara worked for 20+ years as a marketing executive before leaving the corporate world to focus on her writing.  For more on her background and on the book, visit www.barbaracarole.com.

 

Christopher Zoukis: Barbara, Twelve Stones is a very intimate story.  How does it feel to have such personal details of your life in print for everyone to see? 

Barbara Carole: Ha!  A lot of people ask me that.  Telling it all honestly wasn’t easy, but I wanted the reader to know me exactly as I was, with no sugar coating.  Because the whole point of the story is that imperfect people can find perfect love.   Even ordinary people who make poor decisions, can experience extraordinary miracles.

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Poppy von Frohlich

By Christopher Zoukis / BlogCritics.org

Haute couture is big business in San Francisco, the City by the Bay, a hip and with-it kind of place. Lots of money, lots of well-paid high-tech drones working for start-ups. Still, since haute couture’s business model revolves around super-expensive exclusivity that then trickles down to the masses by way of knock-offs and prêt-à-porter lines, even well-paid techies can’t afford the good stuff. The reigning business model either cuts them out of the running or relegates them to looking just like everyone else. Bummer!

Branding is essential to haute couture’s business model. The more exclusive the brand the more the lumpenproletariat lust for it. Everyone wants to feel special and be perceived as one of the elite. The appeal is emotional, which, as most marketing experts are quick to point out, is why people buy things. It’s what keeps businesses in business. Luxury car makers operate on the same principle – BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Infiniti, Ferrari, Tesla, ad nauseam. People want what they can’t afford or can’t have. It’s human nature.
Image courtesy blogcritics.org
This means most people are doomed to unrequited lust. Unless they marry well or happened to invest in Google when it was less than $100 a share, it’s not happening. They should just resign themselves to shopping at Walmart, Target or Forever 21.

Maybe not.

Enter the mistress of mechanical advantage, whose name is Trudy Hodges. Ms. Hodges in not only a sorceress with needle and thread, she also has a happy knack for business. She created a unique business model for her own line of clothing, one that maintains exclusivity but doesn’t require customers to hock their first-born child or make a deal with the Devil or sell their body parts on eBay.

The company is called Poppy von Frohlich. And even though the name sounds like a cross between Pippy Longstocking and the Austrian army, the designs are anything but Teutonic. PvF’s clothing spans the spectrum from avant-garde to retro, including Italian wool coats with cotton flannel or thick satin linings and cotton crochet dresses. But no matter what, it’s just about fashion, always. And it’s green: no muss, no fuss, no waste; it isn’t a line in which half the garments are destined for the dump.

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