Mexico: Day of the Dead

A raid becomes a massacre

It was the day before All Souls' Day, a Roman Catholic holiday also known as the Day of the Dead. As part of the Mexican government's efforts to crack down on drug smugglers, 17 policemen made a sweep of the mountainous "bandit country" in the state of Veracruz, 300 miles southeast of Mexico City. Nearing the banks of the Coachapa River in predawn darkness, the government force surprised a gang of some 50 drug traffickers in the act of loading 1,300 lbs. of marijuana onto a boat. The police had hardly shouted a warning when the smugglers opened fire.

The agents...

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