June 12, 2011 in Nation/World

Prep meets drug lord in Mexico trend

Mark Stevenson Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Knockoffs of the Ralph Lauren “Big Pony” jerseys hang at a street stall in Cuernavaca, Mexico, last week.
(Full-size photo)

MEXICO CITY – “Narco Polo” is the new fashion trend sweeping lower-class neighborhoods in Mexico, inspired by seven high-ranking drug traffickers who were arrested over a three-month stretch wearing short-sleeved jerseys with the familiar horseman-with-a-stick emblem.

The polo shirts are becoming ubiquitous in street vendors’ stalls from the drug-war-ravaged state of Tamaulipas to the cradle of Mexican drug trafficking, Sinaloa.

Demand is so high that a Mexico City street vendor named Felipe stocks several colors and names them after the drug lord who was wearing that color at the time of his arrest.

“This is the ‘J.J,’ ” he says, pointing to a blue one, “and this is ‘La Barbie,’ ” indicating a green number. That was a reference to Jose Jorge “J.J.” Balderas, who allegedly dealt drugs and shot soccer star Salvador Cabanas in the head, and to U.S.-born Edgar Valdez Villarreal, “La Barbie.”

Despite their Ralph Lauren labels, the shirts on sale on Mexico City streets for $13.50 are clearly pirated goods, sold by unlicensed vendors.

“The guys who buy them want people to think they’re tough,” said Cesar, a counterfeit-shirt vendor. “It’s about putting on a look.”

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