"They would give them a machete. If not, they'd give them a sledge hammer and they'd tell them to kill the people they had tied up," said admitted Zetas drug cartel hitman Wenceslao Tovar in a Texas court yesterday--giving a rare glimpse of just how terrifying Mexican drug cartels really are. Tovar, a 26-year-old U.S. citizen, was called to the stand to testify during the trial of an alleged fellow hitman Gerardo Castillo Chavez, but understandably Tovar's stories about his murder camp in San Fernando, Mexico--the site of Mexico's largest mass grave ever--seems to have stolen the trial's thunder and the attention of news agencies.
And it doesn't look like he's lying about the brutality either. As the Houston Chronicle reported back in April, Mexican officials found very little evidence of guns lots of proof that sledgehammers were used in the killing of the 200 dead people dug up from deep pits in San Fernando. "Those who successfully completed the training were treated to a party that included a raffle with winners getting watches, vehicles and cash," Tovar said in a report by San Antonio's Express-News. "Those who couldn't kill were made halcones, the Spanish word for “hawks," or cartel lookouts he said. But Tovar's sudden, forthcoming nature isn't thought to be altruistic. Defense attorneys say that Tovar's descriptive stories are just his attempt to get leniency--he could face up to life in prison after pleading guilty to a killing earlier this month. The testimony and trial are expected to continue today, reports the Express-News.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.