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Borderlands

A self-financed, Vice-style documentary, Baja Smugglers, is taking the border by storm.






News reports are dead to us. The talking heads are tired, and to a new generation, everything from the syndicated networks is old news. We’re tired of spin and agendas—what we want is raw.





For Huckberry reader Jesse Aizenstat, it wasn’t enough to critique—he wanted change. So he made it. Veiled as a “surfing trip,” he travelled to Baja California to tackle the hard-hitting issue of Mexican drug smuggling and its influence on immigration reform.









Bronco, translator, and cameraman in tow, Aizenstat started at the source—the panga boats that can smuggle $4 million of weed in a single run. From there, the journey unravelled before him, and soon he found himself chatting with smugglers about a 120 acre plot of marijuana crops, just down the road. 





Aizenstat’s used to it. After college, he took off for the Middle East, surfboard in hand, and carved his way from Israel to Lebanon. He chronicled his efforts in his book, Surfing the Middle East: Deviant Journalism from the Lost Generation.









Since then, he’s been writing for Huffington Post and has appeared on MSNBC and in Outside Magazine. He proudly wears the badge of rogue journalist, and he preaches a gospel of news without the “heavy makeup.”





He believes the youth demographic wants to experience the news, not be told about it. Taking a hard news slant, he tries to bring the facts by showing them raw footage and interviews at the source—from both sides of the issue.









But back to the smuggling. Aizenstat worked his way onto a panga boat ride, chatted with marijuana farmers, and got stopped at the border by American border patrol. Along the way, he took a few shots of tequila and shredded a couple good lefts.





When we think of adventure, our first instinct isn’t to go into the heart of a drug cartel warzone. But for Aizenstat, it’s what puts adrenaline in his veins. We’re not going to knock it—it makes for a good show. Check out the first two episodes below:









All episodes available on YouTube.









There’s something refreshing about Aizenstat’s style. It’s not polished, and the roughness adds a DIY nature to the production. It’s oddly hopeful, as if national problems can be tackled by surf-trips gone rogue. And, hell, it’s at least worth a shot.





















































Images by Derren Ohanian. Translation by Luis Velazquez. Via Jesse Aizenstat.

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