Ruben Loved Cows: A True Tale of Vigilante Justice


The following is a true story. Names have been changed and details omitted to protect the privacy and safety of all parties involved

Ruben loved cows. In fact, he loved cows too much. In the end, it was his undoing.

What Ruben never did love much, however, was working hard. His wife earned most of what was needed to support the couple and their two preschool children living in the rural north of Mexico. Lack of work never kept Ruben from being busy, however.

Ruben had a reputation for stealing cows from the neighboring ranches, supplementing his lack of hard work with a side-stream of ill-gotten cow cash. He was charged many times with theft, but was always released for “lack of evidence.” After all, once a cow is turned into hamburger, who’s to say whose cow it was?

Then one day Ruben stole one too many cows. Or rather, this time he stole the wrong cow, belonging to a “rancher” whose main business was something far more lucrative than cattle. That night Ruben was found dead, his body stuffed inside of a cow, placed visibly at the side of the main road into town, a warning to others to keep their own love of cows in check.

Karma? Vigilante justice? Or cold-blooded murder? Either way, it’s what happens when government is either a failure or nonexistent, and the remaining community fails to take care of a problem. Someone else handles it. No committee, no ceremony, no avenue for submitting a formal complaint. Without government, life just moves on. It’s our job to determine how.

Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx. He is also the founder of the Rights Brigade, a mover for the Free State Project, and a martial art instructor.