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Marines "Score" One in Drug War

The Killing of a Misidentified Goat-Herder

By Jim Hightower

The United States Drug War, with its multibillion-dollar budget, its high-tech arsenal and its use of the U.S. military on American soil has gunned down Ezequiel Hernandez Jr. just outside of Redford, Texas, right on the Mexican border.

Far from chalking-up a successful hit, though, it turns out that Hernandez was not a drug king-pin, a runner or even a user. He was just an 18-year old kid, herding goats about 400 yards from his family's home. The people here are not involved in drug trafficking, don't know of any drug routes in the area, and had no idea the U.S. Marines had heavily-armed, camouflaged patrols all around them.

Why kill a goat-herder? The Pentagon claims that Zeke, as he was known to his friends, was shooting at the four-man patrol, so it was self defense. But all who knew Zeke say there's no way he would do such a thing -- he was a straight-arrow who even had a Marine poster in his room. Yes, he carried a gun to fend off coyotes and snakes -- but his [quote] "weapon" was an ancient, 22-caliber shooting-gallery gun his grandfather had given him. Not exactly a threat to four Marines.

Indeed, when they killed him with a blast from an M-16, he was 230 yards away from them, he received no warning and the autopsy shows that he was turned away from the patrol, not facing them in a firing position.

What we have here is not merely a personal tragedy, but an infuriating example of a grossly-wasteful, misdirected and monstrous "drug war" that essentially is making criminals out of innocents and now has murdered an 18-year old goat herder outside of his own home.

After Zeke's death, his younger brother tore down that Marine poster and ripped it to bits. But it's not the fault of that four Marine patrol -- the fault is in George Bush and other politicians who militarized this sorry "war" -- and put the Marines where they don't belong.

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