El Gran Payaso
Joined: Apr 2006
Location: San Antonio
Meeting Guys with Lots of Guns
We kicked around the question of whether to report on this. Went back and forth on it, actually.
It's actually part of the story, and if you're not comfortable with it, you won't be coming to the 2014 version, or any future version, of the ATV Ruta in the states of Durango and Sinaloa.
The topic is guys with guns. Unauthorized authorites. Firepower in the Forest, or
That guy to my left isn't riding a moto or ATV. He's working.
In several of the ejidos we did see singles or pairs of vigilantes, enforcers, lookouts, whatever you want to call them. Narcos if you wish.
Our big moment came rounding a curve (I was ahead of SR and by myself when the following happened) and down a hill to a shallow river crossing when I came upon 6 pickup trucks.
And 20 guys with AK47s, sidearms, and vests. A few guys had radios. Just a forest, a river, and lots of nothing except the forest, and them. And us.
I started a little bit of chit chat as SR was pulling up to the scene, and as he did, one of them offered us a beer! He didn't even wait for an answer, he went to a truck and returned with 2 cans.
At this point I had the brilliant idea of capturing the scene for posterity by asking for a group photo. This went over like a lead balloon, but with more like a firm "no way" and no hostility and even a touch of a smile here and there.
I think its fair to appreciate that to my understanding, these guys knew the group of ATVs and motos were coming and in fact had "permission" to be in their sector. So in this sense, if you are thinking about the 2014 Ruta, you can pretty much expect the same thing. The Ruta won't, and in fact can't, be run in the Sierra Madre without these guy's permission.
I also think because these guys are there, it is safer in the Sierra Madre. How can this be? Well, last year, a kid fell off an ATV and broke his collarbone. Who was first on the scene and also got the boy out of there? These guys. They want tranquillo in their area, to be left alone to do what they do. There are a presence in force and because of it, each faction is staying in their own territory.
Richard Grant in his book "God's Middle Finger" also subtitled "Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre" wrote a controversial tome about this exact area, and we were very close the the end scene in the book where Grant claims to have been chased by narcos. The book may be true, may be exagerrated, but the last chapter had me shaking my head in disbelief.
Nothing of the sensational drama that Grant wrote about did we see in the Sierra Madre. We didn't go looking for, nor did we find, anything like pot farms, opium fields, or meth labs. We were minding our business and they theirs. We knew that and they knew that. You may disagree, but I feel the ride was safer because they were out there. I probably failed to fully explain why above, but that's how I feel. It doesn't matter, because if you want to do this ride, expect to also run into these guys on the trail.
tricepilot screwed with this post 07-14-2013 at 07:26 PM