In March of 2011, a Mexican ranching town near the Texas border was besieged by unspeakable violence. Gunmen from the Zetas drug cartel — seeking vengeance against an alleged informant – swept through the quiet town, kidnapping and killing dozens, perhaps hundreds, of men, women and children. Brushed aside as another ugly incident of cartel violence, the slaughter was barely a blip in the United States or Mexico.

In an investigative oral history for ProPublica and National Geographic last summer, reporter Ginger Thompson unveiled the tragic story of what happened in the town of Allende through the voices of those left behind. Many spoke publicly for the first time and at great personal risk. Thompson's reporting also revealed a scandal: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and its botched operation had triggered the massacre in the first place.

On March 1 in Washington, D.C., ProPublica, Audible, National Geographic and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) come together for an event with families of Allende victims. The event will be held at the National Geographic headquarters. In conversation with Thompson, three women who lost loved ones in the massacre will share their stories of the brutality they witnessed nearly seven years ago, the people they lost, the aftermath of speaking out, and their continued search for accountability and justice.

The event will also preview excerpts of The Making of a Massacre, a five-part Audible original series developed from ProPublica’s reporting and interviews from both sides of the border. The audio series transports listeners to Allende and into the lives of the residents and officials who experienced the terror. The Making of a Massacre will be available on Audible beginning March 2. Guests at the event will get an exclusive first listen of this gripping new production.

In addition, a panel of experts — Sergio Aguayo, a human rights investigator at the Colegio de Mexico; Eric Olson, deputy director of the Latin American Program and senior advisor to the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; and Maureen Meyer, director for Mexico and migrant rights at WOLA — will put the Allende massacre in context of the drug war, violence and corruption in Mexico, US-Mexico relations and accountability when DEA missions cost lives.

  • When: Thursday, March 1, 7:00 – 8:30 P.M. (Doors open at 6:30)
  • Where: National Geographic, Grosvenor Auditorium, 1600 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
  • Free to attend. RSVP via Eventbrite.

For more information about this topic, read How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico.

Contact: Cynthia Gordy, [email protected], 917-703-1242