Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juaarez

By Howard Campbell | Go to book overview

Introduction: Drug Trafficking—Studies and
Sources Relevant to the Mexican-American
Drug War Zone

At 3:11 A.M., 76.7 pounds of marijuana were taken from the fuel tank of a 1998 Chevrolet truck at the Zaragoza Bridge and the 47-year-old El Paso driver was arrested. EL PASO TIMES, JULY 12, 2007

In general, the richest, most in-depth accounts of drug trafficking are provided by journalists (Mills 1986; Poppa 1998; Shannon 1988; Molano 2004; Ravelo 2006, 2007d; Blancornelas 2005; Gómez and Fritz 2005; Bowden 2002, 2005; Cartwright 1998; Wald 2001; Caporal 2003), not social scientists, and probably also by confidential law-enforcement sources, to which, unfortunately, I have no access. Mexican newspapers provide a running, day-to-day recounting of important events from the drug-trafficking world, but often it is difficult to verify many details of these stories. The Mexican newsmagazine Proceso has supplied important investigative stories for three decades, but many assertions of its drug reporting cannot be corroborated.1

There also have been occasional first-person memoirs by direct participants in or close observers of drug trafficking or law enforcement (Ford 2005; Kuykendall 2005; Strong 1990; Kamstra 1974; Sabbag 1998, 2002; Levine 2000; Marks 1998; Andrade Bojorges 1999; Glendinning 2005). These memoirs are rich in detail, but are often narrowly focused. Additionally, there is an emerging narco-literature, much of which, not surprisingly, emanates from or focuses on Sinaloa, Mexico, home of many of the largest drug cartels (Pérez-Reverte 2004; Alfaro 2005; Flores 2001; Aridjis 2003; Mendoza 2001).2 Some of this literature loosely chronicles events in the DWZ, such as that of Ronquillo, who sardonically notes that “any resemblance [in his short stories] to reality is

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