No Luck Narco

This is the story of J. R. He tried to be a narco-trafficker and it didn’t go well.

Olia Mishchenko, untitled, A-frames (detail). 2010, pen and ink on paper. 18 × 24". Courtesy of the artist.


J. R.’s possessions include a fight dog that has gone blind, a few Chamín Correa cassette tapes, a 1970 Dodge Dart that doesn’t start, a wristwatch with a broken second hand, a pickax, and the guitar he played at his wedding. One day, while watching a Pedro Infante movie, he realizes that poverty doesn’t even look good on TV. So he grabs his wife and two children and comes down from the mountains. Soon he will discover that the majority of emigrants from his hometown now live in the city of Culiacán, as God intended: what they don’t have, they buy, and what they don’t buy, they steal. J. R. will end up drawn to this world of money and blow, and he will do what he can to be able to sing that corrido that goes: I already started to make money, things have really turned around / Now they call me boss, they even have a code name for me. To become a respected capo, J. R. will try his luck as an errand boy, marijuana transporter, assassin, small-time drug dealer, cocaine cleaner, and operation frontman. This life, however, will bring him bad luck and the understanding once and for all: “That all this about how everyone who gets into the narco business strikes it rich, is just a fucking myth.”

More from Issue 20

More by this Author