Our emotional response to the images of drug dealers who meet their deaths boggle the mind; it awakens the fear of the streets to the point that we convince ourselves that the sweet pictures we are fed daily by the media are those of innocent boys. 

Yes, the death squads are real. 

Yet it has always been known that drug gangs and criminal syndicates use death squads as a means to ensure prompt payment of debts and extract loyalties among their downline network. Obviously, drug syndicates do not give official receipts. 

They require “insurance” in the form of a body, or the threat to harm one. Over the decades that has proven to be the sure-fire way to force payment and loyalty from potential snitches and rats. As it is in the movies, art imitates life. The BBC interview of a lady killer in 2016 gives us a glimpse into this corps of terminators.

The deeper question is: How many of them have infested the police force? Unfortunately, too many. The reason why many drug dealers surrendered early in the drug war is the belief that they will be protected from many within the police force itself that have acted as agents of drug lords. 

Sadly, many of them down the line have, in fact, been eliminated by those who, formally, were sworn to protect them. It would be naïve to think that all of them were killed having attempting to shoot at police, the infamous “nanlaban” narrative.

But it would also be naïve to believe that none of them had weapons. Surely, the drug dealers big and small, young and old, had the means to protect themselves and inflict harm. How then would they be able to carry on the insidious and treacherous trade over the years? How could they eliminate the snitches among them?

As investigations probe into the deaths of some of the younger suspected drug dealers, couriers and runners, we are ushered into a shocking world, where boys have cruelly become men. How have we allowed our young to fall prey to this evil? 

Knowing this, we must be ready to accept the facts as they come, and be mature and critical enough to  accept that the outcomes of these investigations may reveal that these ‘victims’ may have victimized many, and that the seemingly harmless pictures being circulated around may conceal a dark side we are too afraid to explore, a truth that may not conform with the same narrative we readily impose upon this reality.

Reality bites, and does so deeply.

It's time to put more of our thinking caps on to augment the hearts we wear on our sleeves.