Sonoran police revealed the price tag on a life over the weekend, and it was cheap.
A U.S. citizen living in Nogales, Sonora, was in a seafood restaurant just after midnight Sunday morning when a gunman came in and shot him. The accused killer later told police he was paid 700 pesos for the hit, according to Sonoran news reports.
That's about $54.
The victim, Jonathan Martin Morgan, was eating at Mariscos La Bocanita, about a mile south of the border. The gunman shot him six times, and Morgan died in an ambulance taking him across the border for treatment.
Morgan, 20, was an admitted drug smuggler, having been caught driving a pickup loaded with about 400 pounds of marijuana near Lochiel, Ariz., on April 9, 2011. He was awaiting sentencing in that case.
Police arrested Iván Aniceto Estrada López and accused him of the murder. In an interrogation, police told Sonoran reporters, the accused killer gave this version of events: A man known as Juan approached Estrada López outside a church about 10 p.m. He offered to pay him 700 pesos to kill a man.
Estrada López agreed, and Juan gave him a 9 mm pistol and took him to find Morgan. Juan pointed out Morgan at the restaurant and left, Estrada López told police.
Then Estrada López went inside, shot him six times and fled.
By the time police arrested him about an hour later, Estrada López had already spent 200 of the pesos on drugs, Radio XENY reported.
The price tag, while apparently low, was not the lowest seen in Mexico during the years of drug-war violence.
Officials of Mexico's social development ministry said in December 2010 that boys as young as 13 were being paid 500 pesos for a killing in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.
Nogales, Sonora, experienced a wave of drug-war violence from 2008 through 2011, but it began easing in late 2011, with eruptions becoming more rare and less random.
Contact reporter Tim Steller at 807-8427 or firstname.lastname@example.org