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You've read about it in the news...

It's hard to ignore the chilling news coming out of Mexico. Here's a sampling of recent headlines:

  • Mexican drug wars intensify, killing nearly 400 in two weeks
  • Mexico drug violence killed 34 yesterday
  • Gunfight kills 10 in Nogales
  • More than 1,100 killed so far this year in Juarez
  • Severed head and threatening note found outside Mexican newspaper
  • Six charred bodies found outside Tijuana as drug violence escalates
  • Tijuana elite flee to San Diego to escape kidnappings and violence
  • U.S. sees Mexico drug gang violence getting worse

What the heck is going on down there?

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The answers are in this extra-ordinary book. Drug Lord, the Life and Death of a Mexican Kingpin, is a dramatic inside look at Mexican organized crime by award-winning journalist Terrence Poppa. First published in 1990 and revised and updated in 1998, Drug Lord remains as current today as when it first came out.

This ground-breaking and courageous work shows rather than tells how Mexican drug trafficking works on both sides of the border, and everything that is making the headlines today can be found in Drug Lord: vicious wars between rival factions fighting over control of enormous drug profits; murder of rivals; innocents dying in the crossfire; policemen, both innocent and corrupt, being slain or forced to flee for their lives to the United States; and the involvement of federal, state, and federal police in organized crime. The actions of Pablo Acosta—the violent, charismatic drug lord of the book—took place in the Rio Grande border town of Ojinaga. But his story was replicated throughout the Mexico of his day—and still is today.

Based on interviews with Acosta and other drug traffickers, the author traces the drug lord's rise and fall: his impoverished beginnings, his evolution in the border criminal underworld, and the succession of drug lords who controlled the region's crime until Acosta was able to take over with the help of high-level protection within the government of Mexico. There are vivid descriptions of shootouts, showdowns and OK Corral gunfights over control of the region's crime operations, most notably the drug smuggling up and down the border. There are action-packed profiles of the people surrounding the drug lord, and insights into the political system that allowed all of this to happen. Chapter after chapter, Drug Lord is a unique voyage into the heart of a treacherous nether world.

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In this web site, we are offering you a preview of this world. You will find photos taken by the author of Acosta only six months before the drug lord's dramatic death in an adobe village at the edge of the Rio Grande. You will learn about the early career of Amado Carrillo Fuentes, Acosta's partner in crime who later became the founder of the Juarez drug cartel and one of the most powerful drug traffickers ever to emerge in Mexico.

This is a must-read book for anyone concerned about Mexico's escalating drug violence and what it means for the United States and for all of North America.

In the News

Mexican Drug Violence Leaves 18 Dead

RTTNews, 8/11/2009 10:39 PM ET

Violence related to bloody feuds between rival drug cartels claimed the lives of 18 persons in Mexico even as President Barack Obama Monday reiterated U.S. support in helping Mexico fight the drug war, reports say. Read more...

US, Mexico 'winning' border war on drugs: Napolitano

(AFP) – 1 day ago

WASHINGTON — The United States and Mexico are "winning" an often brutal war against drug cartels that operate across the border separating the two countries, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday. Read more...

A Test of Faith in Mexico's Drug War Religion Endures an Inner, Outer Struggle

By Steve Fainaru and William Booth
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TEPALCATEPEC, Mexico -- Father Miguel López drives the parish pickup truck across the muddy river that separates two warring drug cartels. He follows the winding road through the dark green foothills of the Sierra Madre until he comes to a rusting archway where traffickers hung the severed head of his friend. Read more...

Mexican prisons seen as weak link in drug war

12:00 AM CDT on Tuesday, August 11, 2009
FROM WIRE REPORTS Marc Lacey, The New York Times

MEXICO CITY – The surveillance cameras captured it all: guards looking on nonchalantly as 53 inmates – many of them associated with one of Mexico's most notorious drug cartels – let themselves out of their cells and sped off in waiting vehicles. Read more...

More articles...