The Mind of a Mexican Cartel Hitman

Evil — born, possessed, or a neurological condition?

Evil — born, possessed, or a neurological condition?

The more alarming truth seems to be that killers are created.

Such was the case with Rosalio Reta…


I was going on 13 years old the first time I took a life.

One day I got invited to Mexico. I didn’t know what was going on at first and I see about 6 people kneeling down. Then the individual person in charge starts laughing and they saw the scared panic look in my face and asked if I had ever killed somebody. I said I had. Knowing that I had never took nobody’s life.

He pulled out a handgun. He told me to kill that person. The one kneeling in front of us.

I just shot him.

If you were 13 years old and a leader of the cartel was telling you to murder someone then you too would probably follow orders. Kill or be killed!

The cartel then proceeded to take Reta under their wing…

And then he said he was going to put me on his payroll. He said don’t worry about it. Go back to school and whatever you’re doing and I’ll call you when I need you.

2 weeks later he called me back to Mexico.

Put yourself in Reta’s shoes. What choice did he have?

No, Mr. Cartel man who I just witnessed slaughtering people in gleeful fashion I don’t want your money?

No, Mr. Cartel man I don’t want to come back down to Mexico even though I believe you have “absolute control” over the Mexican border-town just over the bridge from where I live.

Once Reta traveled back down to Mexico he immediately began training. He didn’t choose the life so much as the life chose him. Still but a child, Reta’s mind was malleable…

The training I received… you don’t practice with paper targets. It’s a constant war-zone. You practice with live targets. I know it sounds harsh saying it this way. It’s just the way it is. The people we were using as targets was rival cartel members. There would be 50, 60, sometimes over 100 people, like cattle for a slaughter house, there’s scenarios, there’s a house. They say look if you can make it out of here alive we’ll give you your freedom.

These people here are fighting for their lives. They throw you in there. You give a knife to a person in that situation and you’d be surprised what they can do with it.

Reta also learned how to torture…

Honestly I didn’t like that job, especially when it gets so bloody. I’ve done it before. Yes I have. I’ve done the simple stuff that everybody starts doing — pulling teeth out, cutting fingers up, slowly… {stops talking and looks down at the floor}

If the cartel started giving you money, support, and friendship, especially at such a vulnerable and impressionable age, then you too would probably bite the bullet and remove some fingers. As Reta’s then-girlfriend said,

He became close with Miguel Treviño (leader of Zetas drug cartel). He became real close with the big boss.

He trusted him. He gave Reta the big jobs. He was proud of the work that he did. Miguel Treviño basically took him under his wing and basically trained him to be just like him. Miguel was a monster. The stuff that he forced Reta to do. The stuff that he was forced to witness… should never have been forced on anybody.

As Reta saw first-hand — the only way out of the life was either in a bodybag or a prison cell.

But what’s particularly interesting about Reta’s story is how once he was trained to become a cartel hitman he took pride in being good at it…


I didn’t enjoy it, but I tried to be the best at what I was doing.

Gangsters don’t necessarily take pride in what they do, i.e. killing, torturing, extorting, drug-dealing, but they seem to take pride in how they do it.

It’s the mentality of if you’re going to do something, anything, then you might as well do it with everything you got.

Whatever you are, be a good one. — Abraham Lincoln

The stakes are too great not to be great because one right move can mean millions and one wrong step can mean death.

It’s a stressful life that rewards the calculating AND the empathetic.

You need to be calculating to the point where you override personal likes and dislikes in the interest of doing what’s best for business and then to understand what’s best for business you need to be empathetic, i.e. understand what other people are thinking and feeling, so you know how to instill love amongst friends and fear amongst enemies.

Unlike serial killers, gangsters belong to a social group and a business enterprise which explains why, for example, studies have shown mafiosos have lower psychopathic traits than other criminals.

“Members of the Mafia also appeared to have lower psychopathic traits than other criminals,” a study led by Italian researcher Professor Adriano Schimmenti concluded.

We have a human need to feel useful and competent, even if it means being useful to a cartel and competent in killing.


Another lesson we can take from Reta’s story is just how powerful culture is in shaping the person we become.

I tend to be more libertarian in my political and life philosophy, but I wouldn’t classify myself as a full-blown libertarian because libertarians tend to throw up their hands with “live and let live”, but culture plays such a crucial role in shaping who we are that I don’t think it’s wise to let the market dictate all aspects of our culture by constantly appealing to the lowest common denominator by offering instant gratification.

There’s something to be said for the government regulating the worst human behaviors (stealing, killing, abusing) while at the same time incentivizing the best human behaviors (bicycling, recycling, parenting) so that our environment is better suited to bring out our better angels.