It was interesting enough and I learned some things about a topic I was unfamiliar with, but not really a page turner and not sure who I’d recommend it to.

This point is now recognized by most Mexican academics and is a central theme in this book: the Mexican Drug War is inextricably linked to the democratic transition. Historians have noted this paradox in Mexican politics—corruption was not a rot but rather the oil and glue of the machine. These revelations underline a central problem in the Mexican Drug War. The PRI years featured a delicate dance of corruption; in the democratic years, it turned to a corrupt dance of death. In the old days, police officers were rotten, but at least they worked together. In democracy, police work for competing mafias and actively fight each other. Gangsters target both good police who get in their way and bad police who work for their rivals. For policy makers it becomes a Gordian knot. Added to this thorny issue of corruption is a more fundamental problem of drug-law enforcement. Every time you arrest one trafficker, you are helping his rival. In this way, when the federal police stormed Zetas safe houses, they were scoring victories for Sinaloans, whether they liked it or not. Arrests did not subdue violence, but only inflamed it.

In 2008, Mexico submitted the serial numbers from close to six thousand guns they had seized from gangsters to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. About 90 percent, or 5,114 of the weapons, were traced to American gun sellers.

If California did legalize marijuana, it would not only contravene American federal law, it would also violate the UN treaty.

Cover image for El Narco