- "The message was simple: drop the story."...
- institutions are being held hostage by organized crime." "...
- Corchado has spoken to Mexican journalists who have told him,
"We've been ordered not to say anything, we've been ordered not to print anything, we're not to report anything," he says.
- "You don't really know anymore what's going on in regions of Mexico;
- there's so much censorship."
Sandoval Palos agrees. "It's becoming ever more difficult for Mexican journalists to cover these stories," he says.
- "There are credible standing threats to anyone who dives into it."
As the danger mounted for Corchado,
- the Morning News installed bulletproof glass in the windows of its Mexico City office, suggested he drive an armored car and tried posting a security detail with him. That effort was abandoned, Corchado says,
when everyone realized it wouldn't make much of a difference.
- "If somebody wants to get you, they're going to get you," he says.
Corchado continued to pursue the connection between the Mexican government and the drug cartels until another serious warning in 2007: Sources in the United States told him they had heard that
- three journalists in Mexico were being targeted, and one would be killed in 24 hours.
"We think it's you," one source said.
The burgeoning threats made Corchado seriously re-evaluate his career. He chose to distance himself from the border for a while, and spent a year at Harvard as a 2008-2009 Nieman fellow.
- "I had a whole year to reflect on it, and I thought, 'OK, well, this is not worth it,' " he says.
He returned to El Paso and Juárez determined to not get so involved in the stories he covered. But a massacre in January changed his mind. Gunmen burst into a birthday party in Juárez and killed 16 high school and university students. The shooters thought they were taking out rival gang members―but they had the wrong house.
- Corchado was profoundly affected by the families' devastation. "These were the kids who were going to make it to a new life," he says. "It reignited the anger; it reignited the passion."
"How the hell can I walk away from this?" he thought at the time.
And so, despite the risks in Juárez, despite the constant fear Corchado feels for his family in El Paso and Mexico, he continues to investigate and uncover crime and corruption―while being sharply aware of the consequences....
"But someone has to tell these stories. Somebody has to know these stories," he says. "Otherwise they just become invisible faces and just a bunch of numbers."...***
""I need to give you a message," the man told Alfredo Corchado as he was leaving a restaurant in Laredo, Texas, in 2005.
- Violence was on the rise in Laredo, and Corchado, the Mexico bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News, was in the border town to investigate a possible connection to organized crime in Texas.
The message was simple: Drop the story.
"If you do anything stupid right now, there's a van outside and we're here to pick you up," the man said.
- And, indeed, there was a black van, waiting.
"We'll do you a favor," the man continued. "As we're chopping you into pieces, we'll tape it so we can send it to your mother in El Paso."
- In response, the Morning News assigned additional reporters to investigate the situation and take the focus off Corchado―but he didn't drop the story.
"Forget Iraq, forget Afghanistan. This is right on the border," Corchado says. "I've been covering democracy all these years, and it doesn't really matter when all these institutions are being held hostage by organized crime."
- For his coverage of drug trafficking and government corruption along the border, Corchado recently received the Lovejoy Award for courage in journalism, bestowed annually by Colby College in Waterville, Maine."...
- (People long ago found out how easy it would be to strangle America using its famous 'tolerance and compassion' as primary tools against it). ed.