Latin America is by far the world's most dangerous region, averging more than 400 murders a day, a yearly tally of more than 145,000. The plague of violence, has spiraled out of control in parrallel with the destabilzation of the region during U.S. funded anti-communist efforts in the '80s followed by the U.S. funded drug war which continues today. In addition to the thousands dying, many more thousands of families have fled for their lives, with what little they have in tow, searching for any semblance of safety in the north, but have been met with barbed wire, tear gas and a misinformation campaign labeling them illegal economic migrants, rapists and murderers. Meanwhile, the flow of guns and cash flows south into the hands of corrupt governments and the drugs flow north to satiate the world's #1 drug appetite, the United States.
Gabriela Victori's daughter Erica was kidnapped and murdered by long time acquaintances from her neighborhood, Colonia Libertad, a neighborhood caught in the middle of Mexico's gruesome drug war. Though her family paid a $1500 ransom, Erica was bound, gagged and raped, her body found stuffed in a diaper box in an abandoned field. As extreme violence has become the norm across Acapulco, an entire generation of Acapulqueños has become accustomed to living amidst levels of extreme violence. Nearby Mrs. Victori's home was a stash house where criminal gangs took victims to be tortured and murdered, and without any ability to rely on police and politicians who have been corrupted by the gangs, Mrs. Victori was forced to leave her home with her family.
Students in barrio ciudad renaciemiento (Renaissance City neighborhood) practice music as part of an orchestra created to keep them away from the violence swirling around this Acapulco neighborhood, which is caught in the middle of the drug war. Latin America is by far the worlds most violent region, with Acapulco being the world's second most violent city.
Andres Vladimir, who was visiting Acapulco from Mexico City, introduces his 3-year-old son Harek to the sea. Many of those visiting Acapulco's shores, especially those with extensive tattooing that could be associated with gang affiliation like Andres, visit the shores in the early hours of the day to avoid possible confrontations which could arise at other times. A safer time, at dawn Andres didn't have to worry as much about murder.
Gina Jacqueline Andino, of Honduras, does the only thing she can do to stop her 2-year-old daughter Juliana from crying. Juliana was suffering from a stomach infection and the medicine they were in possession of had spoiled on the road. Fleeing extreme violence and failed economic systems with rampant corruption and total impunity for the powerful, asylum seekers have walked in the thousands to the border with the United States, hoping that the ideals which America claims to stand for would greet them at the border. Instead they wait, in limbo in increasingly squalid conditions on the outskirts of Tijuana at Barretal, an abandoned nightclub turned refugee camp.
Asylum seekers rise with the sun to rinse in the cold, with whatever relatively clean water can be mustered. Preparing for another day in limbo at Barretal a decrepit disco turned refugee camp on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico for those turned away at the US border after walking thousands of miles.
Asylum seekers that have trekked thousands of miles across Latin America fleeing violence and extreme poverty wait in the rain for bean soup provided by Refugio Esperanza Church, outside of barretal, a refugee camp on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico where thousands of people wait in limbo.
Historically an area where wealthy Americans would have their yachts repaired, Playa Manzanillo has now become known for the amount of bodies that wash up on its shores, victims of Mexico's drug war. They are often found by the boat carpenters who now live, unemployed, on boats abandoned on it's shores.
A boat carpenter, who spent decades living well from repairing wealthy people's yachts, prepares for another day living homeless on the shores of Playa Manzanillo, which is now well known for the corpses that wash up on its shores amongst decaying and abandoned ships.
Mexican soldiers and police guard a severed head which was left as a message between cartel members in the colonia primero de mayo neighborhood, which is one of the many neighborhoods which has found itself in the center of Mexico's long drug war. The severed head had been dissolved in acid not as a means to hide, evidence but to layer an addiional level of depravity to the message being sent.
The forensic medical services morgue in Acapulco is often full to capacity, even though it has 5 refrigerators, which can hold approximately 400 bodies at a time. A murder victim, recently found in a dry riverbed nearby, awaits autopsy at the morgue.