Drug cartel shoot-out recycling means big business for one border town

The Model Six plays the 'Steve Jobs chord'

(PNS reporting from BAJA NALGAS) The narcotraficante shoot-outs in this border town typically take 30 or 40 seconds. A discerning listener might notice — amid the screams, the pop-pop-pop of semiautomatic pistol fire and the distinctive rat-a-tat-tat of submachineguns — the jingle-jangle-jingle of spent brass cartridges hitting the street.

When the smoke clears, survivors, if any, are taken to the hospital and the dead are carted to the morgue. A city crew hoses off the blood and the police let traffic through.

And then the kids come — a pack of boys, tween scavengers. They methodically retrieve the brass shells left on the street and take them back to Guinchimes del Sud, a local manufacturer of wind chimes, where the spent 9mm pistol and AK-47 submachinegun ammunition “brass” is recycled into musical metal sculptures that get shipped to breeze buffs in America.

But as demand for wind chimes on the U.S. side of the Rio Culero improves, Guinchimes’ path to future success is blowing in the wind.

“It’s a pinche milagro,” exults founder Juan Don Gamera, scion of the Japanese gojiro manufacturing family.

“We knew the demand from El Norte was going to pick up when we data-mined the enterprise orders. As the economy began to recover, models ordered by American outlets tended more and more towards chimes pitched in major intervals. Major chords — you know, a happy, positive sound — reflecting the gringos’ inner attitudes. The musical mesaje was ‘don guare, be hopi!'”

“Until recently we had a disproportionate number for chimes not in major keys,” he said. “When things started getting bad under Jorge Bush, we had to re-tool our assembly line to make more chimes with a sad minor scale, like D minor, the saddest key of all, and then when the big banks failed people wanted nothing but chimes with flat fifths, the so-called ‘Devil’s Interval.’ We knew then the Los United Estates was in deep chit and people thought the economy was going to Hell.”

And while a good economy is good news for sister city Alta Nalgas and others further north, recent success in the Mexican government’s war on the cartels is a mixed blessing for Baja Nalgas. With so many of the potentially-killable local drug cartel members already dead in the city, fewer shoot-outs mean fewer shells on the streets. And no shells mean no wind chimes.

“We need three 9mm cartridges and three 7.62x39mm shells for the Model Six chimes,” says Gamera. “That’s the Steve Jobs Mac startup chord, an inverted C major where the fifth — a G — is prominent. A good street battle used to set us up for a week-long Model Six production run. But now we have more orders on the demand side and a squeeze on raw materials. This is messed up. Can we hold the line on prices and scale up production at the same time? We need better logistics, like you see on TV.”

Photo by Kaensu.

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