The new president of the New York City Transit Authority is smart, seems almost unfailingly polite, and is very English. Whether that’s enough to enable him to wrangle the system he’s been tasked with fixing remains to be seen. William Finnegan paints a deft portrait of Andy Byford settling into his new job and getting his C train legs.
Once the richest country in South America, it now has the world’s highest inflation rate and is plagued by hunger and violent crime. How did this happen?
How the drag queen Cassandro—known as Saúl Armendáriz outside the ring—became a lucha libre star.
How the upcoming Mexican presidential election could impact the drug war in cities like Guadalajara:
“Weary of pantallas, I tried to get to the bottom of a single bust—the ‘historic’ meth-lab raid in Tlajomulco that confiscated some four billion dollars’ worth of drugs. Were the drugs seized really worth that much? Well, no. The more experts I consulted, the lower the number sank. Maybe it was a billion, if the meth was pure. Then was it really fifteen tons of ‘pure meth.’ as widely reported? Well, no. There had been some confusion. There were precursor chemicals. A lot of equipment—gas tanks, reactors. Maybe it was eleven pounds of pure meth. Eleven pounds? Nobody wanted to speak on the record, but the spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office in Guadalajara, a young man named Ulises Enríquez Camacho, finally said, ‘Yes, five kilos.’ Eleven pounds. The fifteen tons had been methamphetamine ready for packing, according to the Army. But it was not ‘a finished product,’ and there had been only five kilos of crystal. In the U.S., where meth is often sold by the gram, that amount might be worth five hundred thousand dollars. So the reported value had been inflated by a factor of eight thousand?”
(Overseas Press Club Award Winner, 2011.) On the morning before I arrived in Zitácuaro, a beautiful hill town in the western Mexican state of Michoacán, the dismembered body of a young man was left in the middle of the main intersection. It was what people call corpse messaging. Usually it involves a mutilated body—or a pile of bodies, or just a head—and a handwritten sign. “Talked too much.” “So that they learn to respect.” “You get what you deserve.” I didn’t see a sign, but the message—terror—was clear enough, and everybody knew who left it: La Familia Michoacana, a crime syndicate whose depredations pervade the life of the region.