Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Cartel

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera fair use
file photo, Wikipedia
Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera of the Sinaloa cartel was arrested in February 2014 and subsequently incarcerated at Altiplano Federal Prison. At the time, DEA officials noted that if Loera was not extradited to the U.S., it would soon be "business as usual," and at some point, he would be allowed to escape.

Big surprise, he did so last July: some say through a tunnel connecting the shower in his cell to a partly built house almost a mile away. Not everyone believes that this is what happened; it is almost as likely that he walked out the front door, some believe with the complicity of the Mexican government.

El Chapo is the model for Don Winslow's Adan Barrera in his recent novel, The Cartel, a book rife with cartel-to-cartel violence that spills over to and includes innocent women and children, journalists, doctors, activists, basically anyone critical of the cartels' modus operandi, many of whom simply got caught in the crossfire. Winslow's portrayal of the degree to which the cartels have devalued human life shows that it falls into the negative end of the scale. They just don't give a rat's ass who they have to kill, as long as they hang on to their piece of the drug trade and, therefore, the income to be had from the mega-buck industry.

Winslow obviously did extensive research to write his gory but engaging look at the "drug war," not to be confused with the "War on Drugs." His characters often state that Americans' lust for recreational substances running the gamut from the seemingly harmless marijuana, to cocaine, meth, and heroin is largely at fault for the bloodbath taking place south of our borders. Have you ever toked up? Snorted a line of coke? Yep, you can claim some credit for the thousands who have died in the cartels' power plays.

I read Winslow's book with interest, as my novel covers similar territory north of the border. What I learned via Winslow is that my take on gang-related violence and drug-trafficking in my own area isn't that far afield. With twenty-nine chapters written, I've been forced to take a breather as other work has cropped up that must be completed first.

You can bet I am anxious to get a grip on Chapter 30, and bring you up to speed with my Murders in the Mesilla Valley.

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