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Our Lost Border: Life amid the Narco-Violence

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The August 31, 2013 episode of American Heroes Radio features a conversation with Texas law enforcement official Sarah Cortez and retired U.S. Border Patrol Agent Hipolito Acosta on Our Lost Border: Life amid the Narco-Violence.

Program Date: August 31, 2013

Program Time: 1500 hours, PACIFIC

Topic: Our Lost Border: Life amid the Narco-Violence

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About the Guests

Sarah Cortez has been in law enforcement since 1993.  She began her career as a full-time police officer with the University of Houston Police Department and then went to work at Harris County, Precinct Four.  She is currently a reserve deputy with the Harris County, Precinct four. During her career she has worked as a patrol officer, field training officer and sexual assault investigator.  After her writing career began, she continued in law enforcement as a reserve police officer and been assigned as a juvenile bailiff, worked undercover during alcohol stings and assisted with the service civil processes.   Sarah Cortez is the author of How to Undress a Cop: Poems and Cold Blue Steel, and a coauthor/editor of Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery and You Don't Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens and an editor/contributor to Our Lost Border: Life amid the Narco-Violence.

Hipolito Acosta “served with the United States Navy and then began a distinguished career as a U.S. Border Patrol Agent in Marfa, Texas.  During the next 29 years he served in a variety of positions ranging from a criminal investigator in the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to Officer in Charge of the U.S. Department of Justice in domestic and foreign postings. As the District Director assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Hipolito Acosta was responsible for overseeing all law enforcement operations of the agency throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, a jurisdiction covering forty-two countries.

Most recently, Hipolito Acosta served as District Director of the Office of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services under the Department of Homeland Security in Houston, Texas.  During this time, Hipolito Acosta managed the reorganization of hundreds of employees of the legacy I&NS office into the new model established under the Department of Homeland Security.

Hipolito Acosta is the recipient of many awards, including the Newton-Azrak Award, the highest recognition given by the U.S. Border Patrol for bravery and heroism in the line of duty as well as recognition from the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals, Secret Service, the Department of Justice, U.S. Customs and other federal agencies.  He was responsible for infiltrating and breaking up some of the most notorious alien smuggling, drug trafficking and counterfeit document vending operations encountered by the U.S. government during his career. 

His success in these endeavors have been featured on ABC News Nightline with Ted Koppel, Fox News Latino, 48 Hours, Univision Television and other national news programs.”  Hipolito Acosta is the author of The Shadow Catcher: A U.S. Agent Infiltrates Mexico's Deadly Crime Cartels.

According to the book description of Our Lost Border: Essays on Life amid the Narco-Violence, “In his essay lamenting the loss of the Tijuana of his youth, Richard Mora remembers festive nights on Avenida Revolucion, where tourists mingled with locals at bars. Now, the tourists are gone, as are the indigenous street vendors who sold handmade crafts along the wide boulevard. Instead, the streets are filled with army checkpoints and soldiers armed with assault rifles. "Multiple truths abound and so I am left to craft my own truth from the media accounts the hooded soldiers, like the little green plastic soldiers I once kept in a cardboard shoe box, are heroes or villains, victims or victimizers, depending on the hour of the day," he writes.

With a foreword by renowned novelist Rolando Hinojosa-Smith and comprised of personal essays about the impact of drug violence on life and culture along the U.S.-Mexico border, the anthology combines writings by residents of both countries. Mexican authors Liliana Blum, Lolita Bosch, and Diego Osorno write riveting, first-hand accounts about the clashes between the drug cartels and citizens' attempts to resist the criminals. American authors, including José Antonio Rodríguez and José Skinner, focus on how the corruption and bloodshed have affected the bi-national and bi-cultural existence of families and individuals. Celestino Fernandez and Jessie K. Finch write about the violence's effect on musicians, and Maria Cristina Cigarroa shares her poignant memories of life in her grandparents' home now abandoned in Nuevo Laredo.

In their introduction, editors Sarah Cortez and Sergio Troncoso write that this anthology was "born of a vision to bear witness to how this violence has shattered life on the border, to remember the past, but also to point to the possibilities of a better future." The personal essays in this collection humanize the news stories and are a must-read for anyone interested in how this fragile way of life between two cultures, languages and countries has been undermined by the drug trade and the crime that accompanies it, with ramifications far beyond the border region.

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