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No Frills Buffalo
The Plaza-The Real Story Behind the Drug War
An investigative reporter in Juarez is caught between two warring cartels and soon becomes a target.
Plaza/ˈplɑːzə/; Spanish: [ˈplaθa]) in Mexican culture, a slang word describing the territory of a certain cartel.
Imagine your town the battleground for drug cartels. Imagine police being killed on a daily basis, bands of teenagers working as paid assassins, extortionists hitting every business, no matter how small it was. Imagine every time you went out to a restaurant, cut your hair, or even went to the movies your life was in danger, be it robberies or public executions. Imagine just five homicides in a twenty-four hour period being considered a “good” day. This is the description of what it is to live in Juarez, Mexico. In The Plaza, Guillermo Paxton explores the horror of what it was to see the place he called home turn into this nightmare.
Saul Saavedra is a crime reporter for the Juarez Daily newspaper. In just a year’s time he saw his city change from decent place to live and work to a crime-infested inferno. He reports the happenings in a city that is experiencing total social decay and writes against the government that at best does nothing about it. Two major drug cartels battle it out in Juarez and Saul soon finds himself in the crossfire between La Linea and the Sinaloa Cartel.
Guns for hire are a dime a dozen in a war among cartels, but Felipe stands out as one of the best. His only love is for money, or so he believes, until he meets a beautiful young prostitute named Ruby. As he rises in the ranks of La Linea his relationship with Ruby changes as well, and soon he learns that she too has a taste for blood.
Thousands of Mexicans are deported to Mexico every year, Juarez being a dumping ground for many. Some are convicts that have spent years in federal prison and now have lost their status as residents. Juan, a psychopathic killer, is given the option to return to Mexico or finish out his sentence in the federal penitentiary. For him the choice is obvious and he soon finds himself at home in violent Juarez and finds work in the Sinaloa Cartel.
Based on true events in the city of Juarez, The Plaza is about the people, the government and the cartels that make up both the innocent victims and the criminals that are the pawns in the drug war of Mexico.
Dedicated to the fallen heroes, innocent victims, and dedicated journalists of Mexico and especially the city of Juarez, Mexico.
“Hey, Jorge, you know what that is right there?”
“No, Felipe, you tell me.”
“That, my friend, is almost a good cop.”
Melendez had seen the two men standing across the street in front of his house, but he hadn’t paid them any attention until they said the word “cop.” Even though he wasn’t currently in uniform, he was the only police officer on the entire block and in fact the whole neighborhood. Adrenalin rushed into his veins; his heart pounded in his ears. He felt the hot, August wind on his neck, and he took a deep breath. He had felt a strange feeling of apprehension since the night before, spent extra time with his two daughters and had made love to his wife more passionately than he had in years. He had even said a prayer, something he thought he had nearly forgotten how to do. He had his car keys in his hand, ready to open the door, and in just a minute more his seven year old daughter, the older of the two, would be running out to join him so he could take her to school. One more minute, and his daughter would be in danger. His sweet daughter who was quite innocent of the awful things he had done, the evil people he had worked for, and the many times he had chosen not to act when he should have while he had been a police officer for the City of Juarez, would now be in the line of fire. His hands shook violently, afraid for himself, but more afraid for his family. Why had he joined the Gente Nueva? He had told his wife that moving to Juarez would be a huge step up, but he had omitted one important detail; he was to be in service here to Chapo Guzman’s mafia. He tilted his head back, then to the left, then to the right, stretching his neck, hearing it crack. He took another deep breath. Melendez made his move, reaching for the .357 he had tucked in his waist and he turned around, his tremulous hand barely able to place his finger on the trigger.
Suddenly, AK-47 bullets ripped into Melendez’s chest, arms, stomach, and legs. Bullets ripped open his face and skull. They pierced into his muscles and nerves, shattering his bones. They ripped apart his intestines, his liver, his lungs, and his heart. Urine and blood ran down both legs of his pants. He was pinned, his back to the car, blood and matter flying all around him. His gun fell out of his finally still hand. The windshield of his car shattered, bullets making a sort of zigzag trail on the hood from left to right. Melendez was unrecognizable now as bullet holes replaced where his eyes, nose, and mouth had been just a few seconds before. Blood ran from the shredded body, pouring onto the cement road like spilled paint from a tilted pail. The sounds of women screaming and crying could be heard from within the Melendez home.
The man called Felipe spit. “Jorge, now that is a good cop.” Laughing, the two men threw their AKs into the back of the white Ford Expedition they had been standing by, got in, and drove off. A woman and two young girls ran outside, screaming and crying. Neighbors poked their heads out of their doors and windows, and confirming the deadly scene was over, began to crowd around their dead neighbor. The quiet murmur of the crowd could barely be heard over the crying women. A man mentioned to someone else that they should call the police, and another bystander said not to because it wouldn’t make a difference. Shortly thereafter, eight soldiers of the Mexican army arrived in a large pickup and shouted orders at the people crowded around the bloody scene who then obediently backed away. A woman covered with Melendez' blood had her arms around the torn flesh that once had been her husband and refused to let him go. The two daughters were taken away by the soldiers and put in the truck’s cabin. The soldiers questioned the crowd, but everyone gave the same basic story. They had heard the shots and came out after a SUV had sped away. Being a witness or informant in Juarez was a sure way to catch a bullet.