This is Part II of the story of Liz Larios and Russell Horn. Part I
appeared in the November 29 issue and may be read online at
www.northernexpress.com in the archives section.
Liz Larios and her family were deported to Juarez, Mexico from
Traverse City the day before Thanksgiving after spending years in the
region. Lizs fiancé Russell Horn sold everything he owned and raised
$3,000 to join her in Mexico. The couple spoke to Express contributing
editor Rick Coates in a phone interview last week.
By Rick Coates:
NE: Liz, talk about this experience for you over the past month.
Liz Larios: This is a complete nightmare. I never thought this would
happen to me. I can truly say I was extremely happy with my life,
having a loving fiancé , my dog, and a great little home and two jobs
in Traverse City.
That day started out so perfect; I kissed Russell goodbye and he
headed to work; the next thing I know Im in a cold room with no
blankets, hungry, and very upset, but at least I was with my mom. We
had each other to hold as we cried ourselves to sleep. I spent a total
of 15 days in jail, the worst thing I could have ever gone through.
Everyone was in there for drug-related reasons but I was there for not
having a piece of paper stating that I was legal.
NE: Where are you now?
Larios: Im very thankful to be alive, Juarez is called a ghost
town. Everyone that can save money to move away does. There is at
least 15 murders a day and abandoned homes everywhere. I dont think I
would be able to continue if I didnt have Russell. He has been my
angel, giving me advice and telling me to be strong on the days when I
just want to give up; like the day my grandmother took us to my
parents old home where my brother was found dead a year and a half
ago. There I found the old wire he was hung from and all of the oils
and blood his body left behind. I liked to watch CSI and to me it
seems as nothing was properly processed.
I live in fear everyday afraid that something will happen to me and my
parents. I dont go out in public once it is dark and I dont use my
cellphone unless Im indoors at a relatives house.
Russell Horn: This place (Juarez has a population of 1.5 million) is
crazy. We hear gunshots and sirens all day and night every day.
Listening to mothers cry for their innocent children who get caught in
the crossfire of the drug war down here. Weve been trying to keep a
low profile, but its not hard to tell that were not from around
here. My plates say I am from Michigan and the Mexican government
wants $800 for local plates. We have been followed home a few times
and just keep driving until those following turn away. We have even
had bullets hit our house.
NE: This must be difficult; after all, in Juarez over the past few
years, hundreds of young women have fallen victim to sexual homicides
and their bodies dumped in ditches or vacant lots. Most of these
murders and disappearances go unsolved. A 2007 book called The
Daughters of Juárez, and the 2006 book The Harvest of Women by
journalist Diana Washington Valdez, along with the Jennifer Lopez film
Border Town has brought the spotlight on life for young women in
Juarez. You have to be frightened?
Larios: Yes, after what has happened to my brother, my sister-in-law
and other family members, I live every waking moment in fear.
I lived almost 20 years in the United States, I graduated from high
school in Traverse City. I had a life there. Now I am a person without
a home and really without a country. I do not speak fluent Spanish; my
relatives call it Spanglish. I try to look down and not speak to
anyone. We cant go out at night. The drug cartel is known to kidnap
Americans, or even Mexicans with American families.
Horn: Liz is a prime target of the drug cartel. She is young and
beautiful. They grab women like her, sexually abuse them and kill
them. We are all vulnerable because of our American connections. If
the cartel finds out, we could be kidnapped and held for ransom.
Lizs parents promised my mom that they would be killed before anyone
harmed Liz or I. The men here stare at Liz in a disgusting way and
give me a look as if theyre thinking of making me disappear. Were
keeping our faith, and trusting in God to protect us. Im not afraid,
because I know God has a plan for us.
NE: What is the next step?
Horn: We are currently living in a home that belongs to Lizs aunt. It
has no furniture and is in very bad shape. Lizs father is very handy
and I have brought his tools and he hopes to find work that way. We
are trying to fix up the home that belonged to the family, the one
that her brother was hung by the drug cartel and his wife beaten to
death in front of him. Our hope is to sell that.
I am using the money I raised in Traverse City to help them pay for
food and other necessary supplies. Soon I will apply for what is
called a fiancé visa. We are also looking into a student visa. It will
take six months to process those.
I have a friend who lives in Texas so I hope to find work there so I
am close to Liz. I need to come up with several thousands of dollars
to pay for the fees to get her legal again here in the United States.
After that we hope to get married soon and resume our lives in our
hometown of Traverse City. But like Liz, I am now a person without a
home or a job. We have to lock the gate around the small home each
night as well as deadbolt the doors and windows. I sleep at night with
a gun in my hand, wondering if this is the way God wants his people to
After Part One appeared in the Express, a documentary filmmaker
contacted Horn and provided him with a digital camera to document his
travels. Details on the film project and an update on their progress
will appear in a coming issue of the Express. Several people from
Northern Michigan made financial contributions to assist Russell and
Liz and anyone interested may still do so by going to 5th/3rd Bank and
asking for the Russell T. Horn, Jr.s account Operation: Save Liz.
To reach out to Russell and Liz, search for them on Facebook.