Feature Story


a film by freddy chavez olmos and shervin shoghian

In 2016, Mexico’s drug war continues to evolve. Many look on in horror as loved ones and total strangers are torn away, either lured in by the appeal of wealth and power, or caught up in circumstances they were often helpless to avoid. Since 2012, there have been more than 47,000 deaths related to trafficking during the last six-year Presidential term. International operations and U.S. initiatives such as “Plan Merida” and “Operation Fast & Furious” have failed to put an end to this war with orthodox methods. To directly combat the violence, the U.S. and Mexican Governments jointly implemented the Leviticus Initiative, a controversial ground-based drone program that eradicates violence with violence. After many failed attempts, both governments took an extreme stance on the drug war. The ideology is based on an Old Testament Bible passage, Leviticus 24:20, that states “eye for eye, tooth for tooth; just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him.” Fittingly, the drones are known as 24:20s.

The public objective was to reduce and prevent gang related activities and drug trafficking using watchdog style drones. Over the last year, they successfully executed their campaign through tactical strikes leaving criminals either dead, arrested or disbanded without central leadership. This success was not without its failures. There have been multiple reports of innocent civilian deaths, including children, which trail in the wake of the 24:20s even though they are supposedly precise machines. Clearly, punishing criminals through retribution raises ethical, religious and socio-political questions:
Is this type of justice an ethical solution? Are there other interests behind the United States’ support? Can Mexico bring back safety to their country?
-- CASSANDRA NORIEGA (16 photos and 1 video total)


**WARNING: The following images contain graphic content that some may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.