The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Ioan Grillo: Gangster Warlords: How Drug Cartels Became Criminal Armies

Wed, April 13, 2016 | SRH 1.208

12:00 PM


Gangster Warlords: How Drug Cartels Became Criminal Armies
IOAN GRILLO, Guest Speaker

Back in the 1960s, drug traffickers in Mexico were a motley crew of farmers and smugglers shifting opium and marijuana to the Rio Grande. Today, they are cartels making billions of dollars in networks stretching around the globe. They use the profits to finance militias that even take on the army, shooting down helicopters with rocket propelled grenades. And they have infiltrated the security forces of entire cities and states, creating a shadow power. These so called "drug cartels" don't just traffic drugs anymore. They have diversified to wide scale extortion, crude oil theft and even wild cat mining, controlling chunks of the economy. Drawing on 15 years of reporting in Mexico and Latin America, including dozens of interviews with cartel members, I look at how this transformation took place and what is the true nature of drug cartels today. 

Ioan Grillo is a journalist and writer based in Mexico City. He has covered Latin America since 2001 for media including Time Magazine, the Houston Chronicle, Reuters, CNN and Letras Libres. His work has also appeared in the New York Times and BBC. He specializes on drugs and crime and the tragic wars they have unleashed. He is the author of Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields and the New Politics of Latin America (2016) and El Narco: The Bloody Rise of Mexican Drug Cartels (2011). El Narco was a finalist for the Orwell Prize and the Los Angeles Festival of Books, and was BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.

Sponsored by: LLILAS

Bookmark and Share

  •   Map
  • Department of Government

    The University of Texas at Austin
    158 W 21st ST STOP A1800
    Batts Hall 2.116
    Austin, TX 78712-1704