There's a story nobody has written about, a story more important than anything to do with me. It ropes in a poor farmer from Chihuahua into a small conspiracy between Mexican organized crime and United States law enforcement. Chihuahua is a state of Mexico that any pill seeker in the Texas area is familiar with. The poor farmer's name is Francisco Balderrama. He has a warm face, thoughtful eyes and is helpful to everyone who needs anything. He is the embodiment of 'gosala', a zenlike principle shared amongst many Mexican inmates that they say means "make it home". He comes off not as a criminal and instead has the jolly character and demeanor of many of the men you might meet in my native home of the rural Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas. Despite never having been in the presence of marijuana, he is serving multiple life sentences for possession of marijuana with intent to sell, something happening more frequently in San Francisco than the sale of Starbucks coffee. He will never see his five children again.
One thing Francisco isn't is a criminal mastermind. He is quiet, meek, kind and respectful. He helps everyone he can and expects nothing in return. I haven't met a less criminal mind in my life. The DEA insists he and his "organization" are the leaders of a gigantic trafficking plot that spans over a decade.
Like Ruby Ridge, it started with a land dispute. Francisco's father died under questionable circumstances and he inherited the family estate. The mountains of his home are music to his soul-- his family has lived in the Chihuahua mountains for many generations. As another man born into mountaintops, I can understand. The rolling hills of the Ozarks and the breathtaking Blue Ridge are the only places I can truly call home. The sight of them stirs something deep in me; I am spiritually bound to them and feel uneasy whenever I am not viewing them and breathing their air. Every day I am apart from their presence is as if a knife is being twisted in my gut. I cannot imagine the pain Francisco must feel knowing that he will never again see his homeland.
There's trouble brewing in Chihuahua. The tales you hear of violence in Mexico are very real. Grenades being tossed into crowds during days of celebration, mass murders in cartel interests and an apathetic government that seems to be able to do little but transition authority over to the cartels themselves. It is a tragedy that Mexicans have to suffer so greatly due to the gigantic demand of drugs in the United States.
Miguel Cablodosqi is one of the new terrors of Chihuahua. I talked to many of the Surenos here from Chiuhahua (gang members of the opposite crowd that Francisco socializes with in these prisons, a more aggressive strain of Mexican that would have no allegiance with him or any other outside their group). The Cablodosqi name is hardly unknown. It is a very real threat in the Chihuahua mountains that seems to operate with complete immunity from the law.
Francisco's family lived on a part of Chihuahua which is now entirely cartel property. His family, bound to the soil, refused to vacate and was being threatened for years with violence by thugs who wish no witnesses to whatever sort of operations they have going in the area. Repeated false contracts came into existence that supposedly gave the Cablodosqi family ownership over his home. In one instance, Francisco's family was evicted at gunpoint while he was off visiting a friend. Francisco and his friends and family retook their residence. The situation escalated and in 1994, one of these fights resulted in gunfire at his residence that injured a member of the Cablodosqi family.
After the first shooting, he sent his daughters to their aunt in Cohuila but he was determined not to leave his family's land. His father said he must never abandon it. His grandfather was telling him to stay and bring more family. He could not forsake his heritage.
Reading over Francisco's case files in the law library, (search 5th circuit decisions for Balderrama) I am started by the lack of evidence against him. He was convicted solely on the testimony of scared immigrants wanting to go home and desperate to please the prosecutor. There are no phone or e-mail records, no conversation recordings, no instances of him being connected to drugs or drug money, absolutely nothing. The prosecution was allowed to import whoever they wanted but Francisco was unable to bring any one of his witnesses to the trial. They libel him repeatedly, calling him a murderer, but do not indict him with any murder related crime. I am quite familiar with these kind of law enforcement tactics myself because the FBI ruined one of my Summer vacations a couple years ago by having their agent or informant calling in bomb threats to synagogues and then telling the innocent congregations I was responsible. Having been a target of an FBI "investigation" for a decade, I can assure my readers that law enforcement has nothing to do with solving crimes and everything to do with making lists of people that powerful individuals don't like and finding lies to charge them with. FBI agents have committed both libel and perjury in their decade-long quest against me. I have never met such an amoral, evil bunch of people as Federal agents in all my life. They are worse than investment bankers.
Many of those who gave testimony in Francisco's trial later sent him notarized documents stating they had committed perjury at the request of the prosecutor.
In the spring of 2000, Francisco's home was shot full of bullets and he finally had enough. He vacated his family from his residence and eventually went to the Olympic games in Australia, chiefly to visit a distant relative and make initial arrangements for potentially moving his family out of the country to avoid further potential violence.
The circumstances of Francisco's extradition from Australia are sketchy at best. FOIA requests for all his related case files show that the papers used to extradite him included photos of someone that was not him. At the time that he was taken from Australia, the DEA didn't even really know who they were extraditing. He was just a name in a list.
His first trial was from August to September 2002. During the preceedings Mark Roomberg, a prosecutor of Israeli origins, stated that the anniversary of 9/11 was a very special time for America and that it is time for people to take a stand against people from other countries coming over here and messing things up. He basically was saying that Mexicans look like Osama bin Laden to him and are all terrorists.
Francisco Balderrama is a victim of a machine that throws the innocent in jail. It is a common trolling technique to start mentioning the name of your enemies in relation to things you do. Over a few months, one of your enemies will start blaming the other for your crimes. By 2000, law enforcement was repeatedly talking about a "Balderrama organization" despite there being no evidence that such an organization ever existed and the Balderrama family being run out of their home by a cartel family. This is a guy that speaks extremely poor English (if I hadn't known some Spanish, we probably wouldn't have been able to converse) put in front of an almost all-white jury in Texas and repeatedly called a murdering drug lord (despite never being charged with murder). Coerce a bunch of poor immigrants threatened with life sentences into perjuring themselves to tell lies about the guy, and you've got yourself a career-making headline and a scapegoat that will never see his kids again! Just another day in the life of a US Attorney!
This guy got railroaded and is royally fucked. There is not anything I can do for him, and it pains me to think that he is going to spend the rest of his life in jail.
Francisco told me about his favorite daughter, Daniella. When his wife became pregnant, he was concerned that they didn't have enough money to raise a child. He sent her to get an abortion, but the village doctor told him that he as his friend would refuse to damn him to hell by killing his child. After his wife gave birth to her, he held her in his arms and knew that she was the most special of them all. "She is only child write me regular, and I almost killed her" Francisco says.
Francisco's family no longer lives on their farm in Chihuahua.
If you want to write Francisco, you can send mail to this PO Box a friend of his checks:
P.O. Box 3356
Presidio, TX 79845
His federal register number is 27085180, if you'd like to kick him a little commissary. Prayer is appreciated too!
- Prisoner Spotlight #1