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'War' is exaggeration in discussing the bloodshed that has terrorized Mexico in the past decades. As rival cartels battle for control of a billion-dollar drug trade, the body count- 23,000 dead in five years - and sheer horror beggar the imagination of journalistic witnesses. Cartel gunmen have shot up schools and rehabilitation centers, and murdered the entire families of those who defy them. Reformers and law enforcement officials have been gunned down within hours of taking office. Headless corpses are dumped on streets to intimidate rivals, and severed heads are rolled onto dancefloors as messages to would-be opponents. And the war is creeping rthward. El Narco is the story of the ultraviolent criminal organizations that have turned huge areas of Mexico into a combat zone. It is a piercing portrait of a drug trade that turns ordinary men into mass murderers, as well as a diagsis of what drives the cartels and what gives them such power. Veteran Mexico correspondent Ioan Grillo traces the gangs from their origins as smugglers to their present status as criminal empires. The narco cartels are a threat to the Mexican government, and their violence has w reached as far as North Carolina. El Narco is required reading for anyone concerned about one of the most important news stories of the decade.
A native of England, Ioan Grillo has covered Mexico since 2001 for top newspapers, magazines and TV stations in the US and UK. He reports for Time Magazine as well as producing presentations for stations including PBS, ABC and Channel 4 of the UK. He regularly appears on radio and TV, commenting on Mexican crime and other issues. He has witnessed police and military operations, mafia killings and major seizures; he's also discussed the drug war with two Mexican presidents, three attorney generals and the U.S. ambassador, among others.