The only reason he agreed to meet me, he said, was that his life was over. Estoy muerto pero no me acuesto, was how he put it. I am dead but I won’t lie down.
I sat on a bench in the Bosque de Chapultepec, just outside the castle, the location texted to my phone an hour before. I wondered what he would look like, scanned the faces in the crowd over the fold of my newspaper. The hot air was greasy with the smoke of the food trucks parked in a long row by the gate. Volkswagen taxis rattled down the cobbles, engines braying like geese as they tore around the corners.
And then he was sitting on the bench next to me. He set down a paper bag between us, got up and was gone.
In the bag was a motel key. The next meeting, face to face.
This story is based on a documentary written by the great Charles Bowden.
In an anonymous motel room on the U.S./Mexico border, a Ciudad Juárez hitman speaks. He has killed hundreds of people and is an expert in torture and kidnapping. He was simultaneously on the payroll of the Mexican drug cartels and a commander of the Chihuahua State Police. There is currently a $250,000 contract on his life and he lives as a fugitive, though he has never been charged with a crime in any country. With his face obscured by a black mesh hood, he tells his story to the camera inside the very motel room he once used to hold and torture kidnapped victims. Aided only by a magic marker and notepad, which he uses to illustrate and diagram his words, the sicario describes, in astounding detail, his life of crime, murder, abduction and torture.