The museum of narcoculture

The Washington Post has an absolutely astounding gallery that looks inside Mexico’s ‘Museum of Drugs’ that is only open to government and army officials and chronicles the ongoing narcowar.

It’s not only a museum of drugs samples and smuggling methods, it also captures some of the culture of the narcotraffickers – including captured diamond encrusted guns and items from branded clothing created by cartels for their members.

Around the corner, the exhibits show how drugs are smuggled, and here human ingenuity is on full display. There is dope hidden inside picture frames, logs, gas tanks, clay pots, tamales, concrete blocks, truck tires, soda cans, car bumpers, shoes, stuffed armadillos and a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

There is a kind of James Bond or Dr. Evil quality to some exhibits. An attache case confiscated from an outlaw surveillance team holds computer boards and other gadgetry to monitor cellphone calls. The cartels now employ their own fleets of semi-submersible submarines. On display is a large sea buoy with a coded beacon device the traffickers attach to huge payloads of drugs they can dump into the sea and pick up later.

Also, apparently, the narcos now have their own line of clothes. There are dark blue polo shirts sporting a kind of family crest for the Zetas, a notorious cartel founded by former special forces soldiers that controls vast swaths along the Gulf of Mexico from Brownsville, Tex., to Cancun. The shirts, which appear to be 100 percent cotton, are emblazoned with a Z and the words: “Cartel del Golfo.”

One of the most fascinating pictures is of a shrine to the unofficial saint Jes√∫s Malverde, literally worshipped by the drug trafficker subculture to bring good luck. It turns out there are a great deal of Malverde videos on YouTube, some of which are tribute videos, others are clips of films or songs about him.

The museum is clearly curated with a great deal of care and consideration and has an slightly uncanny kitsch style that belies its morbid undertones.

Link to WashPost gallery of Mexico’s drug museum.
Link to WashPost article on a visit to the museum (via BoingBoing).

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