But the market is booming: In 2009, more people in the United States bought recreational drugs than ever before. In 2009, the United Nations reported that some $350 billion in drug money had been successfully laundered into the global banking system the prior year, saving it from collapse.
How does an "extra" $350 billion in the global economy affect the murder rate in Mexico? To get the story and connect the dogs, acclaimed journalist John Gibler travels across Mexico and slips behind the frontlines to talk with people who live in towns under assault: newspaper reporters and crime-beat photographers, funeral parlor workers, convicted drug traffickers, government officials, cab drivers and others who find themselves living on the lawless frontiers of the drug war. Gibler tells hair-raising stories of wild street battles, kidnappings, narrow escapes, politicians on the take, and the ordinary people who fight for justice as they seek solutions to the crisis that is tearing Mexico apart. Fast-paced and urgent, To Die in Mexico is an extraordinary look inside the raging drug war, and its global implications.
"Gibler's front-line reportage coupled with first-rate analysis gives an uncommonly vivid and nuanced picture of a society riddled and enervated by corruption, shootouts, and raids, where murder is the 'most popular method of conflict resolution.' . . . At great personal risk, the author unearths stories the mainstream media doesn't–or is it too afraid–to cover, and gives voice to those who have been silenced or whose stories have been forgotten." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Gibler argues passionately to undercut this 'case study in failure.' The drug barons are only getting richer, the murders mount and the police and military repression expand as 'illegality increases the value of the commodity.' With legality, both U.S. and Mexican society could address real issues of substance abuse through education and public-health initiatives. A visceral, immediate and reasonable argument." —Kirkus Reviews
"Gibler provides a fascinating and detailed insight into the history of both drug use in the US and the 'war on drugs' unleashed by Ronald Reagan through the very plausible – but radical – lens of social control. . . . Throughout this short but powerful book, Gibler accompanies journalists riding the grim carousel of death on Mexico's streets, exploring the realities of a profession under siege in states such as Sinaloa and just how they cover the drugs war." —Gavin O’Toole, The Latin American Review of Books
John Gibler is a writer based in Mexico and California, the author of Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt (City Lights Books, 2009), and a contributor to País de muertos: Crónicas contra la impunidad (Random House Mondadori, 2011). He is a correspondent for KPFA in San Francisco and has published in magazines in the United States and Mexico, including Left Turn, Z Magazine, Earth Island Journal, ColorLines, Race, Poverty, and the Environment Fifth Estate, New Politics, In These Times, Yes! Magazine, Contralínea, and Milenio Semanal.
In this anthropological study of drug trafficking and anti-drug law enforcement efforts on the U.S.-Mexico border, Howard Campbell uses an ethnographic perspective to chronicle the recent Mexican drug war, focusing especially on people and events in the El Paso/Juárez area. It is the first social science study of the violent drug war that is tearing Mexico apart.
Based on deep access to the drug-smuggling world, this study presents the drug war through the eyes and lives of direct participants. Half of the book consists of oral histories from drug traffickers, and the other half from law enforcement officials. There is much journalistic coverage of the drug war, but very seldom are the lived experiences of traffickers and "narcs" presented in such vivid detail. In addition to providing an up-close, personal view of the drug-trafficking world, Campbell explains and analyzes the functioning of drug cartels, the corruption that facilitates drug trafficking, the strategies of smugglers and anti-narcotics officials, and the perilous culture of drug trafficking that Campbell refers to as the "Drug War Zone."
Ricardo Ainslie went to Juárez to try to understand what was taking place behind the headlines of cartel executions and other acts of horrific brutality. In The Fight to Save Juárez, he takes us into the heart of Mexico's bloodiest city through the lives of four people who experienced the drug war from very different perspectives—Mayor José Reyes Ferriz, a mid-level cartel player's mistress, a human rights activist, and a photojournalist. Ainslie also interviewed top Mexican government strategists, including members of Calderón's security cabinet, as well as individuals within U.S. law enforcement. The dual perspective of life on the ground in the drug war and the "big picture" views of officials who are responsible for the war's strategy, creates a powerful, intimate portrait of an embattled city, its people, and the efforts to rescue Juárez from the abyss.