Gangland: The Rise of the Mexican Drug Cartels from El Paso to Vancouver

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Wiley, Oct 31, 2011 - True Crime - 288 pages
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A frightening look at Mexico's new power elite—the Mexican drug cartels

The members of Mexico's drug cartels are among the criminal underworld's most ambitious and ruthless entrepreneurs. Supplanting the once dominant Colombian cartels, the Mexican drug cartels are now the major distributor of heroin and cocaine to the U.S. and Canada. Not only have their drugs crossed north of the border, so have the cartels (in 2009, 230 active Mexican drug cartels have been reported in U.S. cities). In Gangland, bestselling author Jerry Langton details their frightening stranglehold on the economy and daily life of Mexico today—and what it portends for the future of Mexico and its neighbours.

Offering a firsthand look from members of law enforcement, politicians, journalists, and people involved in the drug trade in Mexico and Canada, Gangland sheds a harsh light on the multibillion dollar industry that is the drug trade, the territorial wars, and the on-the-street reality for the United States, with the importation of narco-terrorists. With the unstinting realism and keen analysis that have made him an internationally respected journalist, Langton offers the bleak prospects of what a collapsed government in Mexico might lead to—a new Mexican warlord state not unlike Somalia.

  • Details the emergence of the Mexican drug cartels—the transformation of middlemen who ferried drugs from Bolivia and Colombia to the U.S. and Canada into self-styled entrepreneurs
  • Describes how the growth of the cartels led to violent territorial wars—with Felipe Calderon declaring war on the cartels in 2006
  • Offers a frightening look at how much the incursion of the drug cartels has affected American life and business—Wachovia and Bank of America have been found guilty of laundering cartel profits

An unflinching examination of the world's most lucrative—and deadliest—drug cartel, Gangland lets readers explore, with brutal clarity, the newest front on America's latest war.

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This book is misnamed, full of errors, and has no documentation to support some of the claims made by the author.
I am not completely finished reading it (only 130 of the 230 pages) and may
eventually discover something positive to say before I reach the end — but the greatest predictor of the future is the past and the present and the first 120 pages are awful.
I suspected that there would be trouble when the author misspelled (and continued to misspell) the term for the mexican popular music style name the corrido. He refers to narcocorridA and uses this term throughout the book. That's not the only spelling or misidentification of terms found in this book. Mestizo becomes Mezito, knicknames of people become mangled and switched around to unrecognizable forms. The review of Mexican history is simplistic and looks like it might have been cribbed directly from Wikipedia. Doesn't Wiley have editors who do fact checking?
And the title is very strange and perhaps only an opportunistic attempt to cash in on a hot subject. There is NO mention of Cartels until page 56 — a quarter of the way into this book about cartels, and then there are another 5 pages before he begins to lay out his understanding of the history and rise of the cartels. And he immediately makes two serious errors of fact — the most egregious being completely incorrect information about one of the first generation narcotraffickers Pedro Aviles Perez. He goes from bad to worse by page 65 when he attempts to describe the emergence of the Guadalajara Cartel and its leaders.
It seems to me that this author is simply trying to cash in on a hot topic even though he is highly unqualified and misinformed about what is happening in Mexico. There is a disclaimer at the end indicating that he has not identified sources to protect them from retaliation, but I can assure any of his respondents that they have nothing to worry about from what he has said.
I also hope that Wiley didn't publish too many of these books. Mine will certainly end up in the trash.
 

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About the author (2011)

Jerry Langton is a journalist and the author of several books, including the national bestsellers Fallen Angel: The Unlikely Rise of Walter Stadnick in the Canadian Hells Angels and Biker: Inside the Nefarious World of an Outlaw Motorcycle Gang. Over the past two decades, Langton's work has appeared in The Toronto Star; The Globe & Mail; National Post; Maclean's; The Daily News of New York City; The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.; American Banker and dozens of other publications.

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