Brutal shoot-outs, grisly murders, random kidnappings: Drug cartels in Mexico are in a savage fight to the death that has claimed more than 23,000 lives since 2006. Yet despite fears to the contrary, the violence has not spilled over into Texas—which doesn’t mean it isn’t transforming life all along the border. 
A view of El Paso (foreground) and its sister city, Juárez, where more than 5,600 people have been murdered since the beginning of 2008. The border lies about a mile beyond El Paso’s downtown.
Photograph by Bear Guerra

On Easter Sunday, David Arnold Jr., a thirty-year-old ranch hand who lives an hour and a half southeast of El Paso in the town of Sierra Blanca, received a call from his cousin in Mexico. Arnold’s cousin lived in Bosque Bonito, a tiny hamlet—just two families and their livestock—about a mile from the Rio Grande. Earlier that day, armed men in a black Suburban had dropped a note in the road, giving the families a week to leave their land. The war raging in Juárez, where rival drug trafficking cartels have been battling one another and Mexican authorities for control of the passage to El Paso, one of the most lucrative drug smuggling routes in the world, had finally reached this bucolic hideaway one hundred miles downstream from the

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