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.
"The [drug smuggling] business goes on, the slaughtered dead pile up, the US agencies continue to ratchet up their budgets, the prisons grow larger and all the real rules of the game are in this book, some kind of masterpiece."—Charles Bowden, from the introduction
"Pablo Acosta was a living legend in his Mexican border town of Ojinaga. He smuggled tremendous amounts of drugs into the United States; he survived numerous attempts on his power—and his life—by rivals; and he blessed the town with charity and civic improvements. He was finally slain in 1987 during a raid by Mexican officials with the cooperation of US law enforcement. Poppa has turned out a detailed and exciting book, covering in depth Acosta's life; the other drug factions that battled with him; the village of Ojinaga; and the logistics of the drug operation. The result is a nonfiction account with enough greed, treachery, shoot-outs, and government corruption to fascinate true crime and crime fiction readers alike. Highly recommended."—Library Journal
Terrence E. Poppa, an award-winning journalist, was a finalist for a 1987 Pulitzer Prize for his investigations into the connection between crime and government in Mexico. He was featured in Standoff in Mexico, a PBS production about fraudulent elections in Mexico. Due to his unique insights into the world of Mexican drug trafficking, Poppa has been widely interviewed on radio and television, including Larry King Live and The O'Reilly Factor.
Drawing on extensive fieldwork and interviews with US and Mexican law enforcement, government officials, organized crime victims, and criminals, Nathan P. Jones examines the comparative resilience of two basic types of drug networks—“territorial” and “transactional”—that are differentiated by their business strategies and provoke wildly different responses from the state. Transactional networks focus on trafficking and are more likely to collude with the state through corruption, while territorial networks that seek to control territory for the purpose of taxation, extortion, and their own security often trigger a strong backlash from the state.
Timely and authoritative, Mexico's Illicit Drug Networks and the State Reaction provides crucial insight into why Mexico targets some drug networks over others, reassesses the impact of the war on drugs, and proposes new solutions for weak states in their battles with drug networks.
Harrowing personal narratives describing how Mexican authorities disappeared, killed, and injured scores of students and others in a still-unsolved crime.
"Journalist Gibler's investigative prowess yields a book that uses a chorus of voices--eyewitness accounts of the students and others at the scene--to add depth and clarity to the Sept. 26, 2014, massacre of students in the city of Iguala, Mexico, that left six people dead, 40 wounded, and 43 students missing who have yet to be seen since. It's an unforgettable reconstruction of a national tragedy."--Publishers Weekly, Best of 2017, Nonfiction
"In Mexico, John Gibler's book has been recognized as a journalistic masterpiece, an instant classic, and the most powerful indictment available of the devastating state crime committed against the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students in Iguala. This meticulous, choral recreation of the events of that night is brilliantly vivid and alive, it will terrify and inspire you and shatter your heart."—Francisco Goldman, writer for The New Yorker, author of The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle
On September 26, 2014, police in Iguala, Mexico attacked five busloads of students and a soccer team, killing six people and abducting forty-three students—now known as the Iguala 43—who have not been seen since. In a coordinated cover-up of the government's role in the massacre and forced disappearance, Mexican authorities tampered with evidence, tortured detainees, and thwarted international investigations. Within days of the atrocities, John Gibler traveled to the region and began reporting from the scene. Here he weaves the stories of survivors, eyewitnesses, and the parents of the disappeared into a tour de force of journalism, a heartbreaking account of events that reads with the momentum of a novel. A vital counter-narrative to state violence and impunity, the stories also offer a testament of hope from people who continue to demand accountability and justice.
John Gibler lives and writes in Mexico. He is the author of Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt, To Die in Mexico: Dispatches From Inside the Drug War, 20 poemas para ser leídos en una balacera, Tzompaxtle: La fuga de un guerrillero. His work on Ayotzinapa has been published in California Sunday Magazine, featured on NPR's "All Things Considered," and praised by The New Yorker.
More praise for John Gibler's I Couldn't Even Imagine That They Would Kill Us:
"The hideous Ayotzinapa atrocity reveals with vivid horror how Mexico is being destroyed by the US-based 'drug war' and its tentacles, penetrating deeply into the security system, business, and government, and strangling what is decent and hopeful in Mexican society. Gibler's remarkable investigations lift the veil from these terrible crimes and call for concerted action to extirpate the rotten roots and open the way for recovery from a grim fate."—Noam Chomsky
"Journalist Gibler delivers a meticulous and affecting recreation of the events of Sept. 26, 2014, in Iguala, Mexico, when police attacked five buses carrying students from the Ayotzinapa Teachers' College and a youth soccer team. . . . It's a heartbreaking reconstruction of a horrific event, made all the more profound by the persistent demand from the parents of the disappeared, their classmates, and citizens across country for the safe return of the students."--Publishers Weekly Starred Review
"This is an essential work of exacting, caring, and memorializing reportage."--Booklist, Starred Review
"An oral history of one horrific night when busloads of unarmed students were attacked by local Mexican police. . . . cumulatively very moving."--Kirkus Reviews
"A powerful and searing account of a devastating atrocity. Gibler's innovative style takes us on a compelling journey through a landscape of terror and brutality against those whose only crime was to demand the freedom to think."—Brad Evans, columnist on violence for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Review of Books
"We are fortunate to now have in English, John Gibler's courageous account and oral history of the 2014 atrocity in Mexico in which 43 students vanished from the face of the earth and remain absent, while six more people (three of them students) were found dead, one of them mutilated. The US 'war on drugs' has unleashed decades of unimaginable and hideous terrorism in Mexico, just as the 'war on terror' is doing in the Middle East. The cruel viciousness of Ayotzinapa, with the 48 families of all the disappeared, murdered, and critically wounded students insisting on answers from the Mexican government, opens the door to a powerful resistance movement, which also requires U.S. citizens to insist on ending the US war against the Mexican people, which began in the 1820s and has never abated."—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, and the forthcoming The US-Mexican War, 1846-1848
"The value of Gibler's book is not that he tells us or posits that that night (September 26-27, 2014) was a historical turning point. Instead, what is so astonishing is that, using documentary writing, he shows us how the protagonists of the events themselves discover suddenly that they live in a different world than the one they were used to only a few hours before. The book illustrates with precision the move from a Mexico before to a Mexico after that which we have decided to call 'Ayotzinapa.'"—Guillermo Espinosa Estrada, Horizontal
In 2009, after reporting from the border for many years, Ed Vulliamy traveled the frontier from the Pacific coast to the Gulf of Mexico, from Tijuana to Matamoros, a journey through a kaleidoscopic landscape of corruption and all-out civil war, but also of beauty and joy and resilience. He describes in revelatory detail how the narco gangs work; the smuggling of people, weapons, and drugs back and forth across the border; middle-class flight from Mexico and an American celebrity culture that is feeding the violence; the interrelated economies of drugs and the maquiladora factories; the ruthless, systematic murder of young women in Ciudad Juarez. Heroes, villains, and victims—the brave and rogue police, priests, women, and journalists fighting the violence; the gangs and their freelance killers; the dead and the devastated—all come to life in this singular book.
Amexica takes us far beyond today's headlines. It is a street-level portrait, by turns horrific and sublime, of a place and people in a time of war as much as of the war itself.
John Gibler has reported for In These Times, Common Dreams, YES! Magazine, ColorLines, and Democracy Now!.
Andres Tzompaxtle Tecpile was torn from the world. Abducted off the street, blindfolded and beaten, he was brought to a Mexican military facility and "disappeared." Tzompaxtle, a young member of an insurgent guerrilla movement, was subjected to months of interrogation and torture as the military tried to extract information from him. In an effort to buy time to protect his family and comrades, and to keep himself alive, he lead his captors on fruitless journeys to abandoned safe-houses and false rendezvous locations for four months. Finally, faced with imminent execution, he decided to make what he thought was a suicidal attempt at escape; when he miraculously survived, he was able to return underground.
Gleaned from years of clandestine interviews, Tzompaxtle's story offers a rare glimpse into chronic injustice, underground resistance movements, and the practice of forced disappearance and torture in contemporary Mexico.
"At once harrowing and humane, John Gibler's wonderful new book shines a light on the darkest corners of the Mexican justice system. We cannot turn away from what we see there. This is a brave, daring book, equal in every way to the extraordinary life it documents."--Daniel Alarcon, author of The King is Always Above the People
"Once in a long while a brilliant writer happens on a story he was born to tell--a story that in its stark and unremitting horror gives us a glimpse of the world as it is, unvarnished and unredeemed. John Gibler is such a writer and Torn From the World is such a story. A wrenching, astonishing tale, brilliantly told."--Mark Danner, author of The Massacre at El Mozote
"Torn from the World is the product of a thorough investigation and it is written with rage and humility at the same time. This is the work of one of the most important journalists of our time."--Yuri Herrera, author of Signs Preceding the End of the World
"John Gibler's powerful recounting of the forced disappearance of Andres Tzompaxtle Tecpile unearths the brutal machinery of state-sanctioned torture and terrorism in Mexico today. This book must provoke an outcry."--Sujatha Fernandes, author of Curated Stories
"Not since Rodolfo Walsh's classic Operation Massacre have I read a work of political and literary journalism as inventive and urgent as John Gibler's Torn from the World. With courage, empathy, and clear-sightedness, Gibler tackles questions most journalists won't go near.”--Ben Ehrenreich, author of The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine
"The North American journalist John Gibler not only presents here the guerrilla combatant's story, but also contextualized it within the broader, very troubled history of class relations in Guerrero and the contemporary proliferation of human rights abuses in Mexico, from Ayotzinapa to Ciudad."--Jesse Lerner, author of The Shock of Modernity