Tizayuca is a small town in the state of Hidalgo. When the police arrived at the scene, they found 7 women and 4 men, all guests at the party, slashed to death under an awning the host had set up on his property. Eleven bodies in total. Four children were found hiding in the bushes nearby, unable to speak.
The cops told reporters that it was a settling of scores. They said that most of the victims had criminal records. The party host, a man named Ruben, had served time in Barrientos prison for kidnapping, theft and other felonies.
The kids later said that as the killers sliced off parts of each victim’s body, they remained perfectly silent, listening from their hiding spot.
Since early this year, killings in Mexico have been on the rise. In May alone, 2,186 homicides were recorded – nearly 500 per week. These days, this type of incident is fairly common – a settling of scores that involves an entire family. They’re now part of the ground rules.
What’s baffling in this case is why the killers left four kids alive in the bushes.
In some ways, the recent surge in violence reminds me of my childhood in NY in the 1970s and 80s, when swathes of Brooklyn, Bronx and even Manhattan were still no-go zones. During that period, more than a dozen cops were still being taken down each year.
In Little Italy, Staten Island and Sheepshead Bay, not a week went by without news of a table-full of made men gunned down while dining on steamed mussels and linguine. Even an occasional dirty cop was involved.
But cop killings were rare back then, not in small part due to the NYPD’s wrath on whatever tribe was responsible. In mafia-plagued NYC, hit men tried not to involve outsiders.
There were outlier cases, especially among the Asian gangs, like when a dozen teenagers born-and-raised on the streets of war-era Saigon burst into a Chinese restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens and sprayed the dining room with AK-47s.
I used to eat noodles at that restaurant and clearly remember the front pages: 7 diners instantly killed, 12 others seriously wounded. That place never opened again.
I can’t deny that getting sprayed with gunfire did cross my mind from time to time. But I was more worried about a killing spree by some crazy Rambo-type than stumbling into a mob killing.
In Mexico, things are a lot different. What these killers did yesterday was strictly in the line of duty. Among Mexican mafioso, there are now few taboos, little respect for women or kids. That’s all history.
I don’t know how much each birthday party hitman got paid for slashing those mothers and fathers to death in front of their kids. But I hope it was enough to pay for a nice long cruise in Acapulco, where they can slurp ice cold Coronas and look out at the water. Hopefully they won’t get too wasted to take notice of the families gathered by the shore, or think in passing about the kids they left alone in the world.
That may or may not help. But how many others would clamor to fill their shoes? After all, these guys didn’t make the rules. They perform in-demand services, occupy a niche in the economic food chain.
As the cops said, everybody involved in this tit-for-tat clearly knew what to expect. That’s what they meant when they told everyone that nearly every victim had a criminal record.
That’s how the game is played. Ruben and all the others knew that.