INSIGHT CRIME — The future of the recently elected governor in Tamaulipas, one of Mexico’s most criminally infested states, depends on punishing his predecessors for past sins of corruption and collusion with criminal networks, according to the author of a new book on the subject.
Impunity for contraband runners, drug traffickers and corrupt political elites dates back to the very inception of organized crime in Mexico’s northwestern territory, argues Humberto Padgett in “Tamaulipas – La Casta de los narcogobernadores: un eastern mexicano.”
He takes us back to the 1930s, when prohibition was in place in the United States and contraband runners were smuggling alcohol across the border Tamaulipas shares with Texas. One of the documented smugglers in Tamaulipas was Juan Nepomuceno Guerra, born and raised in the border city of Matamoros and the founder of what is now known as the Gulf Cartel.
Padgett paints a fascinating picture of Nepomuceno, who he refers to as “el maestro” (the master). He remains untouched by the authorities, despite the fact that he shoots his own wife, the actress Gloria Landeros, in a fit of jealousy in 1947. Incredibly, even killing the son of revolutionary leader Pancho Villa some 13 years later had no real legal repercussions for Nepomuceno.
There are at least two streets named after Nepomuceno in Tamaulipas, and collusion between the state’s two powers — officials and drug gang bosses — has become part of the culture. Padgett documents examples of this symbiotic relationship from the 1930s to the present day through an investigation that involved scouring documents and history, as well as low-profile field trips.
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