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Documentary Series Examines Life and Death Along Border

Reporting along the U.S. and Mexico border has become an increasingly dangerous task for journalists who live on both sides of the fence.

According to Reporters Without Borders, an international NGO that advocates for press freedom, more journalists have been killed in Mexico this year (8) than in any other country in the world.

Current TV’s Vanguard, a documentary series that won a Peabody Award earlier this year for its reporting on OxyContin in Florida, is now airing a three-part investigation into the roots of the violence in Mexico, entitled “Border Wars.”

Adam Yamaguchi, the executive producer of “Border Wars” and a correspondent for the series, spoke with the NewsHour by phone from Los Angeles and said that the project took nearly seven months to complete.

“Reporting on the border was something that we wanted to tackle from multiple perspectives,” Yamaguchi said.

The special begins with Vanguard Correspondent Cristof Putzel hiring a coyote in the small Mexican town of Altar and traveling by foot into the United States illegally. It was a risky move that Yamaguchi said was done to give viewers a taste of what the trek looks like from beginning to end.

“We sought to give the audience a sense of the desperation that people must feel to be willing to risk life and limb to make this crossing,” Yamaguchi said.

For the second and third parts of the special, Yamaguchi embeds with an elite task force in California trying to stop Mexican drug smuggling organizations in the U.S. and learns just how profitable marijuana is to the cartels.

“Marijuana is now the most important and lucrative drug for these organizations,” Yamaguchi said. “More so than cocaine, meth and heroine combined.”

Yamaguchi said the series will expose how closely linked Americans are to the violence in Mexico.

“These cartels are largely fighting over trafficking routes to get their drugs into the U.S.” Yamaguchi said.

“Border Wars” airs Monday on Current TV and you can watch dispatches from Vanguard’s reporting here.

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