UPDATE: Check out Phil's book review of De los Maras a los Zetas here. Despite the daily toll of arrests and busts in the United States, America's drug war is waged largely in other countries. Mexico, for example, is likely to see more police killed in a bad weekend than the US will see in an entire year. And in Colombia, the drug war is now part of a messy civil war/war on drugs/war on terrorism with casualtiesâpolice, soldiers, guerrillas, paramilitaries, civiliansâon a daily basis. But despite the occasional newspaper report, Americans hear very little about how our war on drugs is affecting producing and transit countries. I can't recall the last book published in English on the Mexican drug trade (hmmmâ¦possible Soros grant opportunity here?). But just because it isnât being written in English doesnât mean it isnât being covered. I'm now reading "De los Maras a los Zetas: Los secretos del narcotrafico, de Colombia a Chicago" ("From the Maras to the Zetas: The Secrets of the Drug Trade From Colombia to Chicago") by Mexico City journalists Jorge Fernandez Menendez and Victor Ronquillo. While I get the sense that Fernandez and Ronquillo are fairly mainstream in their approachâthe book is in many ways similar to the "drug crime" genre in US publishingâthe pair have compiled detailed information on the workings of the Mexican drug trade and opened up a panoramic view of the complex, complicated, and extremely bloody world of the underground economy. I think I will review the book this week, even though it is in Spanish, because the information it imparts is so critical to understanding the consequences of the American insistence on drug prohibition as the only approach to drug policy. Perhaps, if enough people here express interest, an American publisher will pick up this timely and important work. Until then, saber dos lenguajes es mejor que saber solamente uno. The book is published by Editorial Grijalbo, a highly respected Mexican press. When I called to inquire about getting a review copy, the folks at Grijalbo were so happy to get some interest from El Norte that they sent three other drug war-related titles in their catalog, including two by Mexico's most well-known narco-journalist, Jesus Blancornelas of Tijuana. I look forward to reading them. We invited Blancornelas to the 2003 Out From the Shadows conference in Merida, the first hemispheric anti-prohibitionist confab. Blancornelas, who had survived a 1997 assassination attempt at the hands of Arrellano Felix cartel gunmen, said he would come, but only if he could be accompanied by armed bodyguards. Merida is a long way from the violence of the US-Mexican border, and the vibe was entirely different. We didnât want guns at our conference, so Blancornelas didnât show.
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