Agua Prieta, Sonora - just across the border from Douglas, Az - is perhaps the only Mexican border town that hasn't seen astronomical violence.
Even in the next town over, in Naco, men find time to corner one another and spray pick ups with hundreds of bullets.
But not in Agua Prieta. This is a town where everyone knows the name "El Chapo" - the head of the so-called Sinaloa Cartel - and no one knows the name "Calderón" - the president of Mexico.
El Chapo keeps a strong grip on Agua Prieta, preventing all but what many consider a normal level of violence.
About a year and a half ago, there were a few days when local cops found bodies here and there, but that was soon over. It was more of a message to anyone even thinking about trying to take over Agua Prieta: just keep thinking.
The locals in Douglas don't know much about gun smuggling. And they don't know much about the violence that rages across Mexico. Many of them get on with their daily lives, interestingly unaware of what's going on just to the east in El Paso/Juarez, or to the west in Nogales.
There is one local, however, who knows more about gun smuggling across the Douglas border than anyone else. He owns the only gun store in town.
"I get five thousand dollar bribes every week," he told me yesterday as an opening statement to what turned out to be a 45 minute monologue on why he keeps to the law and how the guys at the ATF - Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms - won't leave him alone.
And with good reason. While staying well within the law, he can sell all the ammunition he wants to corrupt Mexican cops. Its such a large loophole that the ATF has asked him nicely not to sell to the Mexican cops.
Within the law, he can sell as many "long guns" as he wants. These are the so-called "weapons of choice" - the AR-15 variations and AK-47s.
About a year ago, he sold between five and ten long guns to a couple guys - nothing illegal about it - and some of the guns were used in Naco at a shoot out. When the guns traced back to his shop, the ATF agents on the case could only get the name and information of the men who bought the guns, but not the men who smuggled them across the border. This gray area - called the gray market - is where the legal trail ends, and the black market begins. Again, the gun dealer is just running a business.
If a guy comes into the store, obviously a gang banger or an otherwise sketchy individual, and wants to buy a gun, there's nothing the gun dealer can do if the guy checks out. Refusing a sale might get the gun dealer into trouble, especially if the customer wants to start talking about discrimination.
Back at the Border Mart, there is no talk of guns or drugs, really. People come and go, and "coyotes", known as "polleros" or chicken herders, often come in for a quick stop after a long day of smuggling people into the US.
Today, I'm heading back into Agua Prieta to learn more about how and why this town has managed through the recent trying times of violence, the economy, and a new feeling from the gringos who don't seem to want them any more.
Maybe I'll find someone who knows the president's name, not Obama (everyone knows him) but Calderón.
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