Mar 19, 2017
Guest Post by Colin
Recently I visited Culiacan and had the opportunity to visit the Narco Cemetery. This is a private burial area established in 1969 by the Narcos for the remembrance of their cartel leaders, their members, and their families. When you enter the cemetery it resembles a cemetery. There are the regular plots and grass but as you go farther in, there are sidewalks with mini buildings on each side. Going deeper, the sidewalks turn into roads like you are in a subdivision of homes. Then you see the large mausoleum buildings. The mausoleums are unique and lavish in their style. They resemble real houses and associated opulence related to the lifestyle of these people when they were alive. This is a public place for anyone to visit but is also a very private place, in fact a very tight knit community as it is used by the people, families and friends related to the deceased and everyone knows everyone. The dwellings obviously have somewhere within or underneath, the deceased person. What you see from the outside and from peering through the windows looking in is a comfortable residence. These buildings have air conditioning, TV’s, bedrooms, full kitchens, and Jacuzzis in some, plus of course the possessions of the deceased person. I say person because there are deceased babies, children, spouses etc.. In the drug world it is common for families to be slaughtered. The living come here to pay their respects, to socialize, to party. They stay overnight in their deceased persons home. The police do not dare enter this community. Most likely there are many guns on the grounds. You don’t want to mess with these people.
When I visited with my friends there was a party going on with a band and food vendors. Not sure if there was a new resident or maybe they were just having a good time. It was poor timing on our part as it was close to sunset. There were many people walking around. We were the only strangers there at that time of the day.
After walking past grave plots you come to the first set of smaller mausoleum buildings, very upscale for Mexico. Notice the sidewalks. We were very impressed.
As you go farther in, they look like this, yes more elaborate.
Going between them and a little farther in they look like this and here is a tag indicating the permanent resident residing there.
Now it is getting interesting. I did wear long pants and dressed so I would be respected as no one really knows who you are but the big mistake that I made was that I brought my camera through the gates even though there was a sign saying very clearly ….NO PHOTOGRAPHY !! It was impossible to hide a full size SLR with an 8 inch lens in my pants. So we walked even farther in. A little bit nervous maybe. We talked to one of the people working there and he said not to take any photography of people, buildings only. For a while I thought I was on a charming sidewalk in Europe.
Then, turning the corner and this was what I SAW…..
Karumba! WOW! ..translated to English. Some of these buildings cost over $650,000.00 US dollars. For a while I thought I was in Las Vegas. Look at this one. These look like homes of scholars not Drug Cartel bosses. The statues on the roof are over 7ft. tall. Very impressive.
We were approaching the sounds of banda and the smell of marijuana was in the air. Need to be more discreet and careful. Around the corner I could see gatherings, food stands and musicians.
We are entering the real interesting photo oppurtunity areas now except……. 2 ladies appeared and I know they saw me take the last shot. .This was bad. Holy Crap! My friends advised me for us to all be very close to each other as we walked and we whispered as we walked. They said no more photography please. We wanted to return back to our house tonight. Heads have been found on the steps of some of these mansion mausoleums. I wanted mine on my shoulders. Being Culiacan residents, my friends knew we were in a “GRAVE ” situation. We walked away slowly, changing directions much like a mouse in a maze. No logic to our pattern and our trackers followed precisely. My friends were beginning to bite their nails. Our legs felt like rubber. One of my friends said to me “are you nervous and a little scared” ? I said in return ” WHO, ME ” ? So we turned back and headed to the gate slowly but quickly. Our trackers fell back as we proceeded away. The sweat was pouring as we were getting closer to the car, hoping the gates were still open.
What an adventure that was.
Below a few related images I borrowed from the internet.
This first mausoleum was the home of one of the most famous narcos. They die very young and have a short life. We never made it to his residence because of our tour being cut short. Next time I will go earlier.
It was quite the visit but I will be back 🙂