Francisco had gone from one dead-end job to another, desperate for cash to buy medicine for his ailing mother. Finally he caved in and accepted an offer to join the Zetas, Mexico’s vicious paramilitary drug gang.
The pay: $1,800 a month, a fortune in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz. It would be enough eventually, he hoped, to return to college, where he dreamed of one day becoming a chef.
But Francisco was shot dead in a late-night clash before receiving his first pay check. He was only 22.
“I’m telling this story because I don’t want his memory to be stained,” his girlfriend, too scared of reprisals to even give her first name, told AFP.
“He never kidnapped anyone, he never tortured or killed. He didn’t even know how to use a pistol. They were about to show him (how to shoot) and he already wanted to get out.”