An admirably thorough and keen investigative report by two Miami Herald reporters about the drag-lord demons of the Medellin (Colombia) Cartel. Gugliotta and Leen kept their bylines off the ten Miami Herald articles on which this book is based—a wise move given the many journalists slain by Colombia's cocaine kingpins during the past decade. But their names are back now, and rightfully so: the research supporting this book is amazing, more than 300 interviews in over three years of digging, and it echoes in the deep detail that vivifies this shocking, fast-moving brief on the four cartel leaders, their henchmen, and the law officials arrayed against them. The authors' story begins in 1979, with a particularly vicious Dade County shoot-out in which Colombians announced their presence in Miami's drug world. At the head of the Colombian rat-pack: Pablo Escobar, Jose Gonzalo Rodriquez Gacha, and Jorge Luis Ochoa—cartel leaders now raking in billions a year, and through muscle and money virtually rulling Colombia—and Carlos Lehder, the megalomaniacal cocaine-addicted focus of this book, who set up a global cocaine distribution network and who now, the only cartel member to be punished, languishes in a US prison for life. Woven within the tale of the ruthless ascent of these once petty criminals is the Sisyphean tale of Colombia's justice minister Lara Bonilla and Anti-Narcotics Unit head Jaime Ramirez Gomez, both sworn to stop the cartel and both ending up with bullets in the brain. Other villains abound, too, including a horde of Yankee drug lieutenants, Panama's Noriega, and the Bahama's current P.M., Lynden Pindling, cartel property. Read it and weep. In the 1980's, it seems, crime pays very well indeed; but at least there are smart, committed reporters like Gugliotta and Leen to shine bright light into the dark valley of the drug lords.
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