Drug Wars and Covert Netherworlds

The Transformations of Mexico's Narco Cartels

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The popular history of narco-Mexico has long been narrowly framed by the U.S. “War on Drugs.” Stereotypes overemphasize the criminal agency of celebrity drug lords. Common understanding of the narco world is rooted in mythology and misunderstanding, and the public narrative has consistently downplayed links to respected individuals and legitimate society.

In Drug Wars and Covert Netherworlds sociologist and criminologist James H. Creechan draws on decades of research to paint a much more nuanced picture of the transformation of Mexico’s narco cartels. Creechan details narco cartel history, focusing on the decades since Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs. With sobering detail, Creechan unravels a web of government dependence, legitimate enterprises, covert connections, and violent infighting. He details how drug smuggling organizations have grown into powerful criminal mafias with the complicit involvement of powerful figures in civil society to create covert netherworlds.

Mexico is at a moment of change—a country on the verge of transition or perdition. It can only move forward by examining its history of narco-connections spun and re-spun over the last fifty years.
“This is an excellent text by a dean of students of Mexico’s drug wars. It is a fascinating walk through one hundred years of the historical transformation and character of drug trafficking organizations, with an additional insightful bonus: much of what we know of the great drug lords in the middle of this spectacle may be, in the end, as fictional as it is real. This fascinating exploration of the transformation of Mexico’s cartels and drug wars, the many myths embedded in them, and the characteristics of its netherworlds is obligated reading for understanding whether Mexico can truly solve this important problem, a prerequisite for graduating into a truly modern nation.”—Tony Payan, co-editor of Binational Commons: Institutional Development and Governance on the U.S.-Mexico Border

“James Creechan has masterfully brought to life the covert netherworld of narcos and alluded to their political connections. In a highly readable fashion, he has illuminated Mexico’s narco history and eviscerated imprecise nature in which we discuss ‘cartels.’ This book will be particularly illuminating for those who have been waiting for the Spanish-language fiction and nonfiction on narcos to be brought to English-speaking audiences.”—Nathan P. Jones, author of Mexico’s Illicit Drug Networks and the State Reaction

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