Chapter One

Simon Aliverra was hungry. He hadn’t had a good meal since he’d left his small village in the state of Michoacan two days ago. His stomach churned and growled but he was too excited to eat. He walked the streets of Tijuana, Baja California del Norte, Mexico. He was now less than one mile from his goal.

He needed only to arrange for a guide, wait for darkness, take his chances crossing the gringo’s heavily fortified frontera and finally disappear in Estados Unidos — The United States of America.

Each year — at the beginning of Lent — men of his village prepared for their migration north and work in the United States. Soon, vegetables growing in the rich fields of California, Arizona, and Texas would become ripe and require tending — and the gringo did not do this kind of work. This was true even for the gringo’s home gardens and lawns. As the growing season commenced these too would require tending and mowing after the winter hibernation.

In the early spring more than a hundred menfolk would leave Simon’s village for America — usually in groups of ten to fifteen. Their exodus was accompanied by the music of Mariachis. You could estimate the combined wealth of the departing group by the quality of the mariachi band they hired. While gringos think mariachi music is the historic music of Mexico, it is not. Most Mexican music is actually Czechoslovakian in beat, intonation and origin and almost all is played on European instruments. In fact, it was only in the 1940’s that trumpets were added to Mariachi bands — by Jorge Ngrete and Pedro Infante — so that the music would have enough “punch” for inclusion in Mexico’s movies. Not one of the Mariachi instruments are indigenous to Mexico — even the vihuela ( a five string guitar) and guitarron ( a huge six string bass guitar) are simple modifications of European instruments. Beneath the European music, and instruments, and Western clothing, breathes the Aztec, unchanged in 1,000 years of conquest, terror and blood.

With the coming of cocaine, the Mariachi bands sang a new theme — the heroism of the narco-trafficker. Now they sang of the land and seashore of Cancun, with roads paved in gold from the generosity of the narco-lords. They sang of how cocaine came from the mountains of Columbia and of how the rulers of those mountains spread their wealth along the highways of Mexico and far into the U.S. The Governor of Cancun, Mario Villanueva, was a hero of dozens of songs since his disappearance with hundreds of millions of dollars in narco-profits.

Simon’s village was a microcosm of modern Mexico. The village consisted of little more than a Catholic church, a video store and a money exchange. Of Michoacan state’s three million residents more than one million are in the United States nine months of the year. There is a very good reason for this seasonal migration — in his village Simon earns but 60 pesos (about $7.00) a day. In the United States he earns $7.00 an hour.

Some of his friends traveled to the United States and worked as far away as Illinois or in New Jersey. They made good money — much of it in cash and tax free. Many returned home with enough money to build two story concrete block houses in the village. Most of the menfolk sent their earnings back to Mexico every week using American Express money orders. The women formed long lines at the local money exchange and converted these money orders from dollars into pesos.

In Michoacan’s state capitol — Morelia — the Mexican government had even set up special aid offices. If you expected money from the U.S. and it hadn’t arrived, the aid office would help you get a refund from American Express. If you needed to reach a relative who crossed into the U.S. — even illegally — they would find a way to contact them.

Thanks to more than twenty years of U.S. federal- and state-supported pre-natal care (which lures pregnant Mexicans to America) — and automatic U.S. citizenship for all children within its borders — many of the younger workers of Mexico’s Michoacan are U.S. citizens.

The magnitude of the Mexican invasion of America is hidden by the fact that so many of the invaders were born “legally” in the U.S. and thus not counted as foreign nationals — although they hold no allegiance to this country. In addition, the U.S. census does not count most of these people because they are often not in the U.S. when the census is taken.

Unlike a million other young men in Michoacan, Simon had been born in Mexico, was a Mexican citizen, and would have to sneak into America.

The bus ride from his village had been arduous — every few miles the bus was stopped by federal troops and searched for drugs and guns. The troops were draftees and had little discipline. The soldiers had a passion for stealing small items from the baggage — or even from the pockets of passengers. Because Mexico is so close to revolution the possession of a firearm can bring you nine years in prison.

The Tres Trias de Oro bus to Tijuana was modern by Mexican standards. It had windows that closed and a toilet at the rear. All Mexican bus drivers prided themselves in their ability to get passengers to their destination as fast as possible — it was machismo. Due to frequent stops at army checkpoints busses sometimes arrived as much as three hours late. There was no way to know how many checkpoints a bus might hit. Drivers took great risks making up for lost time — even passing cars on blind curves. The accident rate was astounding and even two busses would sometimes collide head-on.

Simon had awakened to the sounds of traffic — more cars and trucks and busses than he’d ever heard in his entire life. After thirty-two hours on the bus he’d reached Mexicali — the capital of Baja California del Norte, Mexico. America was now literally a stone’s throw away.

He was quick to realize that Mexicali was a thousand times larger than his village. The streets of Mexicali were paved in a black tar — just like real roads. There were raised concrete paths at each side of the street to allow pedestrians an opportunity to remain relatively untouched by the dirt of the roadway. Every few steps there was a shop or restaurant or cantina. The smells of leather, tacos and beer wafted from doorways.

Simon’s home in Michoacan had been constructed from brush and daubs of mud. His kitchen was a flat rock with three smoke-stained aluminum pots. He bathed once a month. His toilet was a shallow trench. To Simon, Mexicali was paradise.

After picking up passengers at Mexicali’s central depot the Tres Trias de Oro bus moved westward — toward Tijuana. Ahead of them were the Sierra Juarez mountains and their six thousand foot high peaks of gray weathered granite.

Mexico wasn’t the only country to put a road over these mountains. Just five miles to the north America had built its own highway — U.S. 80. Both countries had faced nearly insurmountable obstacles in building these roads — including air temperatures of over 120 degrees, ground temperatures of 170 degrees, no water, and a solid granite mountain face rising four thousand feet from the desert floor.

The Mexican road was two inches of sticky asphalt spread sixteen feet wide — with steep grades and blind curves at the switchbacks. The U.S. interstate was a strip of foot-thick reinforced concrete sixty feet wide and almost arrow-straight for 90 miles.

Thanks to NAFTA, this was the last run Simon’s bus would make using the Mexican road. From now on it would cross the border at Mexicali and ride on the American’s highway. Not only would this cut nearly an hour off its travel time but it would save twenty gallons of fuel. And Americans paid the costs of maintaining the road.

As the bus moved westwards, Simon could catch flashes of America through the trees. At the side of his road were donkeys loaded with firewood, unpainted wooden huts pretending to be neighborhood stores, and uniformed schoolchildren walking through blue clouds of car exhaust on their way to school. In America — which was sometimes less than a mile to the north — he saw towering steel monoliths even 100 feet high with names like SHELL and TEXACO at their tops. Over there the roads were white and the cars on them were polished and glinting in the sun.

The city of Tijuana got its name from the local Indian word “tijuan,” which means “by the sea,” and for the first time in Simon’s life his lungs filled with the heavy, salty, moist, smells of kelp and surf. Easterly morning breezes carried thin clouds of sea fog far inland. He could feel moisture in the air and a promise of coolness.

The bus climbed a small hill and Tijuana — a rancid border town of almost two million people — lay before him. The city’s smoke and smog filled the valley and even climbed half way up the western hills. Just below a thick brown inversion layer he could see the Tijuana bullring, and the Pacific ocean seven miles to the west.

To Simon, the busy pace of Tijuana was astounding. He could sense it in the bumper-to-bumper traffic and the honk of car horns. He saw it in the seven channels of Mexican programs blasting out of television sets in every shop and restaurant. He heard it in the nearly thirty radio stations radiating Baja’s form of Spanish.

It didn’t take Simon long to decide that Tijuana was not a nice place and that everyone was out to rob campesinos — farmers like him. Everyone seemed to be trying to drag him into a shop to sell him clothes or pull him into a saloon to show him naked girls and get him to drink beer.

Simon was worried that he would simply starve to death after he crossed into America. He didn’t think he would like American food. He could tell from the TV commercials that he would never eat at McDonalds. He walked past an American hamburger restaurant and was disgusted by the stench of meat vapors. The odor was so heavy that he thought he would wretch. He was a Terascon Indian and had grown up on cactus leaves, maize, beans, rice, lizard and chicken.

Finally, when he could stand his hunger no longer, he stopped at a street vendor and purchased a meat-filled “Torta” and a Coke — for $2.50 American. A “Torta” can best be described as a “Submarine” sandwich with a meat of unknown pedigree.

As he walked the streets of Tijuana it was painfully obvious to him that his Mexico was a different world from this. His entire life had been one of dirt, dust and heat — he had lived his life very close to the earth. Downtown Tijuana was a city of more than a million people — with buildings rising a hundred meters into the air. Here, Mexico seemed to be a country on the move.

He turned a corner and there before him was a long line of dirty men waiting to enter a graffiti smeared building. Above the building’s front door was a sign, “Sisters of Hope”. He peered through the doorway and into the shadows of a large room. Possibly a hundred dirty men were slurping soup from tin bowls. There were stacks of tortillas at each man’s shoulder. Suddenly, a man stood up and flicked open a huge farmer’s folding knife. The knife was then brought down like a scythe — slicing a seated man’s neck. Screams and blood filled the air.

“Policia! Policia!”

Simon backed away from the door and lost himself in the passing crowd. He could spend no more time exploring the lives of failures — men who had come to Tijuana to cross the border and then discovered they lacked the fortitude to accomplish such an arduous and dangerous task. Simon knew he was not one of them. He would succeed.

In all of his village there had been but one telephone — in the police station. In Tijuana, telephones were on almost every street corner — hanging on poles like ripe fruit.

He looked at one of the telephone machines. It did not have a dial. This telephone had silver numbers in the shape of a square. How did the squares rotate?

He did not want to explore such a machine in public — the policia might think he was trying to steal it.

Simon stood by the telephone and measured the faces of each bronze-skinned person walking toward him. One of these people might know the secrets of this machine and assist him.

“Senior, cómo lo hago utilice este teléfono? — Sir, how do I use this telephone?”

“Do you know the telephone number you wish to employ?”

“Si. I have it here!”

“Do you have the coins?”

“Coins? Do you mean that this machine robs you of coins for the privilege of its use?”

“Look, you brown, squat, person of the … dirt, do you want me to help you or not?”


“Give me the number.” The man took the scrap of paper from Simon, put his own coins into the telephone, punched in the number and handed the phone to Simon.

“Gracias Senior!”

“Por nada!”

Simon listened intently to the ear-piece. He had never in his life actually used a telephone before — this was magic!


“My name is Simon Aliverra. I wrote to you. I am ready to pay you for guidance over the frontera.”

“Indian piece-of-shit. You have the $2,000?”


“Where are you now?”

“I am on a large street — near a donkey that has been painted with white stripes.”

“Walk north east until you get to a place called Colonia Libertad and then place yourself at the front of the pink movie theater. You will be collected at seven o’clock tonight. If you miss the appointed time, do not call me back.” The man hung up.

Simon now had a mission. His only real problem was that he could neither read nor write and street names were a complete mystery to him. He surveyed the streets and hills of Tijuana — looking for a pink movie theater. He was diligent — he would slowly move east one block at a time and plow up and down each and every street from end-to-end as if they were furrows in his field. He would find this pink movie theater.

His travels took him through the center of the city and past the Fronton — the jai lai palace — and then back to the bus terminal and even to the outer northern reaches of the city and to the border checkpoint between Mexico and America. That place was amazing — 24 lanes of cars inching their way north — each car stopping next to a White man in a little round hut. It took 30 minutes for a car to move from the end of the line to the man in the hut. Sometimes the driver of a car would be asked to open the trunk. Other times a car would be directed to a special area where dogs restrained with huge leather straps would paw at the machines and sniff their interiors. Sometimes even the car’s seats would be removed and the car even more carefully searched. Simon watched as one driver was placed in chains and lead away.

Simon could not help but notice that many White people were walking around the city — thousands of them. Most seemed to stay near a street called The Avenue of the Revolution — Avenida Revolucion. These people were blanco — white! They were the whitest people he had ever seen in his entire life. Did this whiteness really cover their entire bodies? Would the men’s dicks look like peeled bananas — with little peeled radishes hanging on each side for decoration?

And these Whites were huge — many were two feet taller than the average mestizo from Michoacan. Most of these Americans — for that’s what they had to be — were fat. Many of the American women had buttocks the size of a cow’s — possibly even larger. Simon started to laugh. How could these human cows shit? Wouldn’t the turd be flattened by the female’s cheeks? What insane man would want one of these huge females? How could he even afford to even feed such a gigantesca mujer — such a gigantic woman? Simon decided that America must truly be a rich place to have created such colossal women.

He started to wonder if he was doing the right thing. In less than twelve hours he would cross the border and be on his way to Los Angeles. He knew many villagers who had forsaken the fields and farms of California to instead work in auto parts refurbishment factories in Los Angeles. There was considerably more money in such machinery work — but he would have to deal with many more of these Whites. He wondered if his boss would be as fat as some of these Americans. Ugly, ugly people.

It took Simon six hours of walking to find the pink movie theater. All he could do was hope that was the only one in Colonia Libertad.

He sat there at the front door of the pink building. The doors looked as if they had been nailed shut many years ago. The building’s pink paint was flaking off the walls in patches the size of his hand. He had been told that at one time it had been a thriving theater.

But since 1965 — and the beginning of America’s “Great Society” — people would stay in the colonia only long enough to rest for the journey north and the free medical care, lodging and food. Few people in the colonia were interested in seeing movies anymore.

Just to the north of the pink theater was a dirt road that separated Colonia Libertad from “The Wall” — America’s defense from people like him. The Wall was a formidable obstacle. It was a barrier more than fifty miles long. It was a fortification. He’d looked through a hole in its steel plate only to see another wall a bit farther north topped with barbed wire — and he could see yet another wall beyond that. Crossing the frontier at a place such as this would be suicide.

He would wait. A truck would arrive soon and take him back into the mountains — to a weak spot in America’s border defenses. At that spot and with more than a dozen just like him he would make the “brinco” — the break — across the frontier and into America.

The last rays of a California sunset bathed Simon in a dusty warmth. He could see the faint golden sparks of cooking fires drifting out of chimneys and into the evening haze. On the hillsides to the north Simon could see the slow-moving headlights of white and green Ford Broncos used by the United States Border Patrol — “La Migra” — as they searched the hills and canyons for border crossers like him. The U.S. Border Patrol officers were called “Los verdes” or “the greenies” because of the dark green color of their uniforms.

The U.S. Border Patrol maintained over 2,500 agents along the western most 50 miles of U.S. border and 350 agents in just this sector — with more than 80 on duty at any time. If Simon were caught crossing here — near the Colonia — he might spend as long as four hours in “the tank” at the Border Patrol’s facility off of Dairy Mart Road. He would then be deported to Mexico. With luck he might be able to cross north again before the agent who’d caught him even got home for dinner. But being fingerprinted and photographed and recorded in the big U.S. government computer was not what Simon had in mind. The first time he was caught he would be deported with a pat on the behind. If he was caught again it would be a federal felony and he could get two years in an American prison. So many men like him were crossing the border that America’s courts could not handle the load and he would have to be caught more than 20 times — and thus have at least 20 federal felony counts against him — before he would see the inside of such an American prison. If he was careful he could probably cross the border every year for ten years and not use up his chances — and thus still be eligible for some future immigration “amnesty”, become an American citizen, and then legally invite his immediate and even distant relatives to become American citizens too. Simon would save his “lives” and cross safely far to the east.

A few paces from him several members of Colonia Libertad’s local gang — called “Linea 13” — sniffed paint fumes from plastic bags. The fumes destroyed brain cells and made the men stupid. Most had tuberculosis. Some of the gang members were also drug addicts. Thanks to their carefree attitude toward hygiene almost every needle hole turned into a puss-oozing open sore. The smell was overpowering and resembled a combination of toenail clippings and rotting hamburger. These people were terrifying to look at and truly sickening to be near.

A small stream of raw sewage and soapy water trickled past — effluent from shacks up the hill. The smell of shit and urine — mixed with the smells of fresh tortillas, cooking meat, paint fumes and rotting flesh — is what he would forever remember of his visit to Tijuana.

Simon was wearing four layers of clothing, not because he was cold but rather so that on his journey he could easily discard the layers one at a time as they became coated in dirt. When he arrived in America he could seek employment wearing only the innermost and cleanest layer. Also, he had been told that American drug police looked for short brown people carrying backpacks and that they put a high priority on capturing them. A backpack meant “drug smuggler” to American police.

Simon watched as the sun fell below the hard blue edge of the Pacific Ocean and the border slowly darkened into shadow. Then, starting far to the west at the shores of the Pacific and moving eastward, it became a ribbon of blue-white light. U.S. Border Patrol light towers spaced every two hundred yards sparked to life and turned the border football-stadium white. No wonder few campesinos risked a crossing along this part of the border.

An overloaded truck strained to climb the hill into the Colonia. At some time in its life it had been a brown 1953 Ford pickup. Now it was painted in several colors of greens and blues. As the truck pulled to a stop Simon could see a faint yellow glow inside the cab and long strings of blue fringe hanging down from the top of the windshield. A rosary was hanging from the rearview mirror. A plastic Virgin Mary was glued to the dashboard.

There were two men in the cab. The man on the passenger side seemed to be the boss and pointed to Simon. The boss would be the “coyote” — the smuggler. The word coyote is from the Aztec word “coyot.” To the Aztec, the coyot was a trickster figure who resisted domination. Today, he is a person who moves back and forth between two cultures as a trafficker in human life.

To give the smuggler a bit more panache he was sometimes called the “guia” or guide. At other times the “coyote” would be called a “polleros” or chicken-man and his cargo “pollos” or chickens.

The driver creaked open the truck’s multi-hued door, put his green cowboy boots onto the rock strewn dirt road and slowly walked toward the rear of the truck and toward Simon. The driver was about 60 and wore a white straw cowboy hat with the hat’s strings hanging to the rear and down his back. Even in the dim yellow street light. Simon could see a huge silver belt buckle on the man’s ponderous belly. The driver spoke in the slow easy dialect of Baja California.

“Hey, hombre. You wanna ride to the big city?”


“Oye, cojudo. Ven Aca — Okay, ass hole. Then get over here!”

The driver opened the rear gate of the truck and Simon climbed in. The back of the truck was filled with stinking, unwashed bodies. It took him several seconds to squeeze into the mass of humanity squatting in the darkness.

Driving without lights was dangerous on Baja California’s unpaved mountain roads but most coyotes agreed that this was the safest way to avoid “La Migra.” As trucks passed in the opposite direction a blast of air hit Simon square in the face and dust filled his mouth and eyes. The jarring road made him bite his tongue twice and now he could feel a small line of warm sticky blood leaving his mouth and running down his chin. All he could do was keep his eyes shut and his teeth tightly clenched.

There were 16 others in the back of the pickup with him. This time they were all men. Sometimes there were children and women. The women often got a “discount” on the fee charged to take them across if they provided “needed services” to the coyote and his helpers.

The truck lumbered through the low hills to the east of Tijuana and to a village called Tecate — a Spanish corruption of the Kumyais Indian word “zacate” which is the name for the bowl-like valley in which the village sits.

One of the passengers tried to converse with Simon. “Amigo! So where are you from?”


“Is it nice there?”

“Oh si! Es muy tranquillo!”

“Have you heard of the gringo’s efforts to remove us from our lands? Have you heard of this hijueputa California governor Pete Wilson?”

“No, I know nothing of what goes on in the land of the gringo — except what I have seen on the television set in my village.But I have one tremendous curiosity. Ah, senior, how are the young women in America? I have seen the old ones who are over twenty years and they are too fat for me. I want to meet the good ones — aged twelve, thirteen, fourteen — the ripe ones! What I have seen tells me that they yearn for our interest and warm caresses.”

“Oh, yes! They are all wonderful! They are all named Manuela!”

At this many of the men raised their hands into half-closed fists and pretended to masturbate. Working in America was a lonely life. The reality of their America — compared to the machismo they exuded at home — scarred their very souls.

“You are going to find yourself in a new world little man. In los Estados you will work your ass off. The jefes will control your life. But you will become proud of your new life and its travails. Your prayer will be Yo aguanto! I endure!”

Another passenger — more contemplative than the rest — finally entered the conversation with a confession: “In los Estados we live the life … of the homosexual — vivimos maricones.”

The public admission of the true emptiness of their lives north-of-the-frontier forced everyone into silence.

The truck droned on into the night.

After an hour of following rutted dirt tracks through the hills the passengers started pounding on the truck’s cab to make the driver stop and let them piss. The bouncing ride was now more than their kidneys could take. To save time the driver simply stopped in the middle of the road and instructed his cargo to stand along the top edge of the truck and piss off the sides. The smell of various rotting liquids spurting from infected urinary tracts was disgusting even to these men who were used to a life very close to the dusty earth. A truck passed and blasts of air swirled their piss into soggy dust clouds coating trousers and shirts.

The truck left Tacate’s valley and moved east — following seldom-used dirt trails through narrow mountain passes. They entered a rock strewn shallow arroyo at the 4,200 foot level and angled north — toward The Wall. There, among low scrub the truck finally slowed and stopped. The driver killed the ignition and the engine wheezed and clanked to a stop.

After the thunder of the truck the world seemed absolutely silent. There was only the faint creaking and clanking coming from the exhaust pipe and muffler as they cooled. There was a bit of a moon and the sky was clear enough to see for miles. Under a cold and cloudless night sky there was nothing to retain the ground heat and temperatures could drop to freezing in these mountains even during the summer.

The driver, sweating from the stress of driving these roads with no lights, popped open a can of Tecate beer and told his load of peasants to get out of the truck.

As each man jumped out the back there was a thump and an “Uh!” as they misjudged the distance from the tailgate to the ground and landed sooner than expected.

Simon could smell the truck’s burned clutch, cheap Mexican gas and sour human sweat.

Just a mile to the north was the United States of America. Even at night there was an obvious difference between the two countries. Even here — near a small mountain village — Mexico was dirt, foul smells and poverty and America was paved, white, clean and rich. Yet it was the same land, the same resources, the same rain and wind and sun. Only the people were different.

Across the valley they could see the outline of an American farmhouse built on a low hill that jutted into the valley. This small piece of rich America was to be their first goal.

Once the campesinos reached this American farmhouse they could steal food, money, clothes and maybe even a car — and use it to take them deep into California. Each campesino had agreed to pay the coyote $2,000 to be taken to Los Angeles — half had been paid in advance and half would be paid on arrival. If they could steal a car then they could get to Los Angeles on their own and save a great sum of money. And, perhaps, they could find money or valuables in that house and their entire journey would have cost them nothing.

Border crossing tactics varied from crossing point to crossing point. Here in the mountains one coyote could manage no more than 17 men. Elsewhere along The Wall the number of border crossers might be larger. Sometimes the coyote would wait until he had more than one hundred in his group.

Simon had been told about these crossings. When there were a hundred or more they would all lie in wait for a lone Border Patrol vehicle to approach the planned crossing point. The campesinos would block the road with small trees or rocks. As soon as “La Migra’s” Ford Bronco stopped they would rush it and stone it, and if the driver was foolish enough to get out of his vehicle they would stone him too. They would then strip the driver of his gun, ammunition, clothes, and money and pack twenty or more people into his Bronco and drive away. In these cases the vehicle would be used as a diversion so that the remainder of the crossers could reach the safety of San Ysidro or Chula Vista — areas just to the north of the border — where they could quickly blend in with the existing Mexican immigrant population. This all was possible because the Border Patrol Agent’s radios did not reach over the hills to his brothers even in the next valley. Each Agent was alone.

The most outrageous crossings were made by eighteen-wheel semi-trucks. As many as 177 illegal aliens would cram themselves into a single truck trailer and then the truck would race across the border and toward Los Angeles. As many as one of these trucks a day is discovered, stopped and seized by U.S. Border Patrol.

Simon and the other campesinos lined up single file at the edge of the road. The coyote tried to hurry them. If a Mexican Border “Grupo Beta” team discovered them then the coyote would be put in jail (until he paid the jailers all the money he had collected) and the campesinos would be abandoned — to find their own way back to Tijuana.

The coyote’s orders were simple — stay close. If the campesinos needed support or guidance as they moved down the trail in the dark then they could grasp the belt or shirt collar of the person ahead of them.

The driver finished his fourth beer, twisted and crushed the can into a biscuit shape and tossed it into the brush. He then opened his fly and pissed against the front wheel of his truck — spattering his shoes and trousers.

The coyote ignored the driver’s privacy, tapped him on the shoulder and discussed how he would take the campesinos up the trail and that the driver should meet them on the U.S. side of the border a mile east of Tecate summit — which was at 4,200 ft elevation.

Each journey was different. The physical condition of the “chickens” and even the season of the year affected the route to be used and the group’s travel time through the mountains.

The driver nodded to the coyote, finished pissing and zipped up his fly. He then slowly wedged himself back behind the steering wheel of his truck and drove on — farther to the east. In fifteen minutes he would be five miles away, where he could set up a little diversion for “La Migra.”

The driver had made a mortar from a three foot length of steel pipe. That mortar would be used to send 9.5 ounce Nescafe Espresso Roast cans full of home-made napalm half a mile into the U.S. The driver used Nescafe cans because they were the last small cans still made of steel. The brush fires caused by these cocktails would be spotted quickly and attention diverted miles away from the little band of “Conquerors of the New Mexico.”

The band’s signal to cross the border would be the sight and sound of American fire trucks arriving at the distant fires.