Donald Trump wants to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, and he vows to do so if he becomes president of the United States. The wall, he believes, will stop the flow of drugs into the country as well as prevent the illegal entry of people across the border. Whether Trump is right or wrong about the need for a wall is a matter of fierce debate that will only grow in intensity as the election year progresses.
What cannot be disputed, however, is that there is a huge amount of drugs coming across the border, no different than in the past. There is also a greater influx of people coming now from all parts of the world than ever before. Who are these people? What is their motive for entering the United States?
Another matter than is beyond dispute is that smuggling activities related to drugs and people are controlled by organized crime groups, and to some extent organized crime is controlled by agencies of the government of Mexico.
Drug Lord, the Life and Death of a Mexican Kingpin, was groundbreaking when it was first published because it gave a clear picture, through the life of Pablo Acosta, of how that nexus between crime and government actually worked. The nexus in his day was huge and seemingly total to the point that it was hard to distinguish organized crime from government. Certain powerful government officials — politicians, bureaucrats, military officers — made huge amounts of money by providing protection to favored groups.
Do these same arrangements exist today? The answer to that is very likely “Yes,” though probably not to the same extent as in the past. These are different times. During the era of the Pablo Acosta drug organization, now widely seen as the precursor of the Juarez drug cartel, government controlled crime. Now crime controls government. The tables have turned.
Insights into this can be found throughout this extraordinary book by award-winning journalist Terrence Poppa. First published in 1990 and revised and updated in 1998 and again in 2010, the book remains as current today as when it first came out.
This ground-breaking and courageous work shows rather than tells how Mexican drug trafficking worked on both sides of the border, and everything that is making the headlines today can be found in Drug Lord: vicious wars between rival factions fighting over control of enormous drug profits; murder of rivals; innocents dying in the crossfire; policemen, both innocent and corrupt, being slain or forced to flee for their lives to the United States; and the involvement of federal, state, and federal police in organized crime. The actions of Pablo Acosta — the violent, charismatic drug lord of the book — took place in the Rio Grande border town of Ojinaga. But his story was replicated throughout the Mexico of his day — and still is today.
Using interviews with Acosta and other drug traffickers, the author traces the drug lord’s rise and fall: his impoverished beginnings, his evolution in the border criminal underworld, and the succession of drug lords who controlled the region’s crime until Acosta was able to take over with the help of high-level protection within the government of Mexico. There are vivid descriptions of shootouts, showdowns and OK Corral gunfights over control of the region’s crime operations, most notably the drug smuggling up and down the border, but also the theft of automobiles and airplanes in the United States. There are action-packed profiles of the people surrounding the drug lord, and insights into the political system that allowed all of this to happen. Chapter after chapter, Drug Lord is a unique voyage into the heart of a treacherous nether world.
In this web site, we are offering you a preview of this world. Herein are photos taken by the author of Acosta only six months before the drug lord’s dramatic death in an adobe village at the edge of the Rio Grande. You will learn about the early career of Amado Carrillo Fuentes, Acosta’s partner in crime who later became the founder of the Juarez drug cartel and one of the most powerful drug traffickers ever to emerge in Mexico.
As an added feature, the website will also post breaking news about the border, Mexico, and the debate swirling around the Trump Wall.
Drug Lord is a must-read book for anyone concerned about Mexico’s escalating drug violence and what it means for the United States and for all of North America.