I'm Shane Smith, co-founder of magazine-turned-global media empire VICE. Recently I went to Juarez, Mexico where the drug cartels are at war with a group of polygamous Mormons, some of whom are related to Mitt Romney. I thought you guys might be interested in what I saw. Ask me anything about the conflict, Romney's Mexican Mormon family, myself, my company - anything.

I also documented the whole thing: http://www.vice.com/vice-news/the-mexican-mormon-war-part-1

NOTE: I'll be able to respond to questions between 11a-1p EST.

Proof: My original tweet https://twitter.com/shanesmith30/status/250518981927108608. This post is also linked from www.twitter.com/vice.

UPDATE: OK have to sign off now and go back to shooting. Thanks for all the kind words. You have no idea how much it means to me especially when I am away shooting. You are all beautiful babies. Lets change the fucking World (it needs it).


Comments: 2839 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

donuts22977 karma

Why is VICE .com so hard to navigate?

ShaneVICE1858 karma

because we are journalists not programmers. We suck I am sorry.

SensitiveGangster739 karma

What do the cartels think of our border security?

ShaneVICE1703 karma

they all live in Texas because its safer.

AhhhBROTHERS657 karma

Just wanted to say I love your documentaries and you are an interesting dude to listen to. Love your podcast time with Joe!

ShaneVICE392 karma

thanks very much I appreciate that

brentmcdonald568 karma

Does Romneys Mormon family want the war on drugs to end ?

ShaneVICE915 karma

yes. big time. They want to talk to Mitt and advise him on the situation down there.

phattanner007399 karma

  • The Vice Guide to Travel is one of my favorite things. What would you say was your or any of the other guys's biggest "Holy Shit" moment in filming the series?

  • Any plans on going back to North Korea(r)? If not, where do you think you'll take the series next?

  • What is your favorite/least favorite drug?

  • If you're ever in Atlanta, can I buy you a beer?

ShaneVICE603 karma

Liberia, NOrth Korea, Siberia, Mexico, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan have all had their own holy shit moments. But Getting jailed by the secret police in Yemen was bad. Very bad.

we are going to be shooting with DPRK refugees in a new seg that will blow your fucking mind (if I do say so myself)

Booze, coke, MDMA, E favs. Non-favs any speed, Meth, Herion, "hitler's charlie"

onefinelookingtuna390 karma

When does the HBO series start? Should we expect new content?

ShaneVICE524 karma

It starts late this year

ShaneVICE290 karma

all new all killer Dec/Jan

ShaneVICE351 karma

OK have to sign off now and go back to shooting. Thanks for all the kind words. You have no idea how much it means to me especially when I am away shooting. You are all beautiful babies. Lets change the fucking World (it needs it).


pinkwaff1e337 karma

Hi Shane! Ever since watching your amazing documentaries e.g. Trip to North Korea, Liberia, I've been inspired to travel to more interesting and "uncommon" places.

  • Do you have any pointers as to how one should get started?

  • Tips when travelling to "dangerous" places?

  • How did you get started and what inspired you to do so?

  • Were there any dangerous moments during a trip where you felt like you were going to die?

Have a great day!

ShaneVICE573 karma

well figure out a place that sounds insane, then buy a ticket.

Try and fit in, dress like a bum with a few local flourishes, learn some of the language and if possible stay drunk.

I got started by traveling for Vice around the world/

I never feel like I was going to die until I got on the plane home as is usual.

FenwayFranks302 karma


ShaneVICE757 karma

people steal our shit all day long. We are small but we have the best stories.

WatchConcerts227 karma

Thanks for all your amazing work!

Has Vice had any response from the Romney camp over the Juarez story?

ShaneVICE345 karma

I have been shooting in Pakistan so I don't know in all honesty but will check.

rob22moore184 karma

Hey Man ,Which is more difficult to get a Taliban or a Mexican drug lord to interview ??

ShaneVICE444 karma

Mexican Narco for sure. Taliban want to talk. We have a new series coming called "Warlord of the Week" and we have a line up of Taliban who want to floss. Narcos? Not so much.

twoww181 karma

So when do you see an end to the war on drugs in America? I was watching Boardwalk Empire last night and thought the same thing you mentioned in part 7, it is extremely similar to what happened in the 20's with alcohol. The people who want the stuff get it but it's giving bad people a lot of power.

ShaneVICE390 karma

I don't see it ever ending unless the US admits that the "War on Drugs" has been a disaster and that we have to start decriminalizing now.

whogotbigmeat1177 karma

What would you say is Joe Rogans most attractive physical feature? Not that I care or anything.

ShaneVICE295 karma

his brain. Oh and those shoulders.....

oliver_tate169 karma

You've been to some really messed up places and seen some disturbing shit. How does that affect your faith in humanity, if you have any?

ShaneVICE473 karma

people are essentially good. armies are essentially bad. Armies have to kill and destroy, its what they are built for. Only when you see the wake of an army do you realize how terrible we can be as a species.

aemaarnldya163 karma

I want to first thank you for your work with Vice. I have gotten a sense of how ballsy you guys can be (traveling to Liberia and North Korea) but has there ever been a piece that you just felt was too risky and not worth risking your life for that you backed down on?

ShaneVICE407 karma

Somalia a few times we were going to get embeded with the pirates and both times our pirates ended up in firefights with other pirates. puntland is hardcore.

Dexter_Squint160 karma

Just wanted to say that when you are on the JRE episodes, they are some of the best! Out of curiosity are you fluent in Spanish or any other languages? Thanks.

ShaneVICE192 karma

French, a bit of Italian, Spanish and some Greek.

altapowderkid157 karma

First, thanks for doing the work you do. I'm watching the videos now. For those who don't have time right now but may want to watch later, what specific information lead you to engage this topic, or, describe the "wow" moment when you felt compelled to dig deeper into the story.

Thanks again, Shane!

ShaneVICE358 karma

When I heard the Mormons were at War with the Cartels I was like "What wait???" Then as we dug deeper it got more and more insane. I love stories like that.

honestellery155 karma

When you're faced with hairy situations, do you think having a beard helps?

ShaneVICE314 karma

yes i think it does. people don't take me seriously.

pandadeer666148 karma

Yo Shane, love your shit. Tell me, is Vice part of a total reinterpretation and democratization of the way we receive news and updates on current events? I mean, you do a lot of other stuff too, but obviously you're getting tons of fans and followers day by day who believe that anyone with a camera has the right to report. How long does the mainstream, biased and bribed media have left until we get all our info from real humans beings?

Keep it up.

ShaneVICE400 karma

well thats a great question. I think that its a changing of the guard in media and its about time. Over the past 15 years mainstream media has failed us. They don't keep powerful politicians and businessmen in check, the have failed as the fourth estate. That means that WE have to take on that mantle and do it ourselves. Fuck the mainstream media, we can tell our own stories now.

JRGallardo01148 karma

I was looking around the area on google earth and noticed and Mennonite Church and Co-op near by. Do you know if they are they having the same problems with the cartel?

ShaneVICE253 karma

Yes! they are. Good fucking research. They also make delicious cheese. and as such have started a fantastic pizza chain. True story.

JezusGhoti143 karma

What kind of Arab Spring coverage should we expect to see in the future?

ShaneVICE392 karma

Syria is going to meltdown. Egypt will be a problem going forward. And if Israel bombs Iran then we are all fucked....

horse_you_rode_in_on138 karma

Is there any chance that we'll see the return of pure controversy articles, like the The Vice Guide to Shagging Muslims? That was ages ago.

ShaneVICE212 karma

hahhhhha we have controversial shit up almost everyday. Are Tardigrades piece nearly caused a religious war!!

cosmo2k10135 karma

VICE is one of the most important publications out there, thank you.

ShaneVICE87 karma

thanks very much

vaaaliant133 karma

Did you ever get that blowjob while shooting a machine gun?

ShaneVICE294 karma

no but I tried mightily.

heretoupvoteyou128 karma

Hello Mr. Smith; I love the VICE. When are going into Syria? Thank you for doing this.

ShaneVICE319 karma

we are shooting there as we speak.

thecheeseborger113 karma

Would you rather be deaf or Amish?

ShaneVICE136 karma


OrangePlus108 karma

It seemed that a lot went unsaid in the Mormons vs the Cartels series. Was there a lot of violence that you couldn't talk about in it?

ShaneVICE224 karma

yes. we were forced to edit some shit down. The really violent shit. And we dont' want to put targets on anyones backs when we shoot with them. No matter what.

bl33t105 karma

keep doing what you're doing - it's by far my favorite thing to watch on youtube

ShaneVICE101 karma

thank you very much

D_day98 karma

I really like your videos, but why don't you release the whole thing at once? It really bothers me when i get halfway through and have to stop and watch it later.

ShaneVICE285 karma

we have to edit them, much like a TV series they take time and effort and money and clearances and this one we wanted to get up fast so we serialized. Sometimes we release all at once and sometimes if its more time sensitive we edit as we go. Quite frankly I am a little dismayed by how many comments we got about the way we released this series. It was as fast as we could do it.

laundry12388 karma

In terms of your safety, how did this trip stack up compared to your previous visits to North Korea and elsewhere?

ShaneVICE195 karma

its scary in Mexico because there will be no warning, just a shot. They all make their money smuggling so if you have a camera then it can't be anything positive so they just shoot. There are so many killings, hijackings and kidnappings that if you get caught shooting no one would blink if you dissappeared.

vaaaliant86 karma

What's the most ... up thing in the world right now, that people should pay more attention to?

ShaneVICE311 karma

Nuclear Proliferation. We should not have these weapons, nor Russia nor anyone else. Iran, Pakistan, India, Israel all with Nukes? Its going to kill us all and for what? The residuals of a cold war that reminds me of children playing with loaded pistols.

britheguy79 karma

Shane, I am so happy you are doing an AMA, VICE is my absolute favorite when it comes to documentaries.

What advice would you give to an aspiring documentarian?

Many thanks, and keep doing what you are doing so well.

ShaneVICE139 karma

get a camera, get a story and shoot it. Seriously its as simple as that. DOn't overthink it. Just press record and let the material do its business.

GreatScott_ish78 karma

What are you fears for the future of American journalism? Or just Journalism in the western "free" media for that matter?

I would love to see a Vice guide to the fall of independent media. Hell I'd even quit my job to make it happen.

ShaneVICE186 karma

well I think you've hit the nail on the head. I fear that American Journalism has turned into American Propaganda. Watergate>?? Not anymore.

A_CUNTY_DOG75 karma

Did you get bloodflow when you were in the hot tub with the transgender ladies? Also any word on the HBO show? And how much airtime will you get on the HBO show? Thanks for being awesome.

ShaneVICE173 karma

No i didn't get a boner (there was a whole crew shooting it) But i have no beef with she males. HBO is a full series and I am the host. Thanks for being beautiful

vaaaliant74 karma

What's the craziest (but safe) destination for an openminded adventurous 28-yearold?

ShaneVICE141 karma


awesomeness123469 karma

The mormons you dealt with seemed extremely normal, well adapted, and genuine. That was surprising to me given my prejudice, I expected some nut-job polygamists that would constantly veer the conversation to religion.

That said, the documentary really only showed their "spokesman." Were the rest of the mormons you dealt with in Mexico equally "normal" and well adapted? Did they preach or get creepy?

ShaneVICE104 karma

they were awesome. I really liked them and was surprised at how "AMerican" they all were. Super guys who are involved in some heavy shit. I hope they all stay safe and continue to prosper down there.

daniekp59 karma

Has there be a high tension situation (monrovia streets at night, cartel pick-ups checking up on you, etc.) where you have thought to yourself "what the fuck am I doing here?" and almost considered giving up on such awesome and dangerous expeditions.

ShaneVICE117 karma

not really. I like it. its only dangerous when you think about it afterwards. at the time you are just thinking "fuck I hope I go that shot!"

VixenSprouts58 karma

I've lived in Mexico (Tijuana) for quite some time, and while Mormons exist there certainly is not the type of base they appear to have in Juarez. Do you get the feeling that the rest of Mexico is aware of this Mormon conflict or is it localized?

ShaneVICE87 karma

well they have colonies in DF and now in the South as well. THere are mennonites in Chihuahua as well a lot of Religious shit happening out there in the desert.

eltonjock53 karma

Where do you really want to go next?

(Thanks so much for these docs. Definitely some of the best work out there.)

ShaneVICE135 karma

I'm here now shooting, wait until you see this one WHAT a story (can't say exactly where cuz I don't want to die.

enjoithelrg53 karma

Did you actually see radiated boars in Chernobyl? Also thanks for the AMA

ShaneVICE84 karma

yes, they were too fast for our camera but have been highly documented since.

naughteee49 karma

Hey Shane, I've been a massive fan since late 2010 when you guys have your show on MTV and continue to keep up to date with your stuff through youtube and vice.com. I thought I'd throw a couple questions your way

  • What ever happened to your television show and does Vice have plans for future appearances on TV?

  • How does one become a video journalist for Vice?

  • When will we see more stuff from Thomas?

Thanks, Nathan

ShaneVICE115 karma

1) we left MTV and now have a Show on HBO that will premiere late this year (and Hollleeeee fuck do we have some bombs)

2) apply to us at vice.com

3) Thomas has just shot GOLD for us in Africa. COming soon.

kunomchu44 karma

Hey Shane. I'm interested in knowing if you are trained in self defense whether it be ninjitsu, archery, or MacGuyver shit. I love vice videos but I always feel the real danger in your videos. You guys and gals are doing great work, putting to light many issues.

ShaneVICE168 karma

I find if i stay a little drunky it hurts less when I hit the ground.

GivesDecentAdvice41 karma

Personal opinion on LSD? Marijuana?

ShaneVICE159 karma

great when you are 17 not great when you are 42

Kyle_Skinner40 karma

What were the locals like? And did you have any major problems getting permission to film?

ShaneVICE99 karma

we didn't get permission and the locals were lovely, cept for the bad ones that chased us out of dodge

lordofsong34 karma

What is the scariest thing you have done as a reporter?

ShaneVICE117 karma

sneak memory cards out of North Korea. Or close second bribed the Yemeni secret police.

Irishpop34 karma

Hi Shane, love the shows. Have you ever considered making a Doc on Irish Travelers?

ShaneVICE83 karma

yes. 'specially their fist fights.

CharlieSheeny33 karma

Why haven't we seen more "Vice Guide to Travel" episodes recently?

ShaneVICE59 karma

we are shooting a bunch for HBO that we will share on Vice.com as well. A lot of gold coming this fall.

SteelToeAGoGo32 karma

I look forward to watching this after work. What are your travel plans for the future? Are there any new series coming out for the video side of Vice?

ShaneVICE51 karma

have been shooting a ton recently; Africa, Asia, Pakistan, India, Lots and lots of Bombs to come.

this_is_a_good_iama31 karma

Shane, I'm a big fan of your work, especially the North Korean related stuff.

I have a question about the North Korean labor camps one. On the part when you guys were out in the woods chatting with the actual laborers, you were kind enough to blur their faces in the film - but it seems that given that they were in the same scene with the higher-ups, one of whom was identified as the local party secretary, it would have been a trivially easy task for anyone in the North Korean leadership to identify these poor hapless souls doing nothing more offensive than having a beer with you and your crew, and talking about their day-to-day lives. Have you heard of anything happening to the North Koreans with whom you've made contact?

ShaneVICE44 karma

the workers had nothing to worry about with our coverage. The PArty bosses did, and in my opinion they are very bad men indeed.

Ich_alex30 karma

First, i Love Vice. You guys got some balls! Also I think it's great of you to cooperate with German public broadcasting zdf.neo!

Have you planned going back to north Korea. That was easily the best documentary ever! Now that Kim-junior is in charge? Maybe ride some roller coasters with him? ;)

ShaneVICE121 karma

we are trying to set up a shoot with Kim Jung Un as we speak.

PyongyangJim29 karma

Tell Baby Balls that he's awesome for me, I can't find an email or a twitter to tell him myself. Thank you and good day.

ShaneVICE51 karma

I will, he is very shy.

Nail_Saver26 karma

What's the best course of action for a junior in the journalism professional program at the University of Montana to land an internship or job with VICE after graduation?

And any tips for standing out in journalism as it moves to a more online based field?

ShaneVICE50 karma

ask our HR person he should say yes.

Alex_Francis25 karma

Thank you so much for VICE. I've watched all of your documentaries and have loved all of them. They are real inspiration for me as I love your style of reporting as it all seems so real, and to a degree, dangerous which makes it all so captivating.

You have a massive fan base at my sixth form and your videos are always a hot topic for us.

Thanks again

ShaneVICE34 karma

thanks man. that makes me happier than you can know.

hazardousload22 karma

Did you feel in more danger in Mexico or North Korea?

ShaneVICE38 karma

North Korea is more prolonged. Mexico is more BANG in your face.

lessasdf18 karma

What do you miss the most when you are out travelling?

ShaneVICE114 karma

bed, bath, wife, kids, sheets, solid shits.