Though the Tarahumara largely kept to themselves, poverty and hunger made them targets for narcos looking for mules willing to make the demanding trek to designated drug drop-off points in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. Cartel recruiters trolled the gas stations and plazas of small Mexican towns. They bought blue jeans for those wearing traditional loincloths and paired them with guides to lead them to the border at night. In the Tarahumara, the cartels found literal drug runners, who not only could cover incredible distances but were desperate enough to do it.
With drug cartels paying to bring packages across the U.S. Mexico border, the hardy Tarahumara face punishing conditions and risk jail time for a chance at escape from often-dire circumstances.
Read: The Drug Runners by Ryan Goldberg