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

Gangland: The Rise of the Mexican Drug Cartels from El Paso to Vancouver by Jerry Langton.
February 15, 2012
Publisher: Wiley (December 13, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1118008057
ISBN-13: 978-1118008058
Nonfiction Biographies & Memoirs True Accounts
Nonfiction True Crime Gangs
Nonfiction History Mexico
Jerry Langton’s articles have appeared in The Toronto Star; National Post; Maclean’s; and he is the author of the national bestsellers Biker: Inside the Nefarious World of and Outlaw Motorcycle Gang and Fallen Angel: The Unlikely Rise of Walter Stadnick in the Canadian Hells Angels.
Gangland: The Rise of the Mexican Drug Cartels is much like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, only with drug dealers instead of songbirds. The book is both a history and a bellwether of the Mexican drug cartels and the increasing levels of violence and atrocity they have brought to the border and beyond.
The Mexican cartels began as a means to move cocaine for the Colombians as the American and Colombian authorities increased their sea and airborne surveillance. As the Colombian police and military diminished the Colombian cartels the Mexicans were more than happy to fill the vacuum. However, where the Colombians has to use land, air, and sea to move their drugs the Mexicans only had to hop a fence or wade a river.
Langton gives a detailed account of the politicians, journalists, and law enforcement personnel and the “narcos” on both sides of the trade. The billion dollar industry has corrupted local officials and police all across Mexico and sparked wars over territory and even personnel that have resulted in a tit-for-tat escalation between the drug lords and the police and the cartels themselves. Langton gives full account of the drug cartels’ capacity for brutality and atrocity highlighted by their penchant for beheadings and ritualized torture in the mode of the Santa Muerta cult. He gives a look at the terrible effects the cartels have already had in the US with kidnappings and money laundering by Wachovia and Bank of America. Even more disturbing he describes the cartels’ threat to the Mexican government and the terrible repercussions of a failed state at our southern border.
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