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KINGS OF COCAINE:  by Guy Gugliotta

KINGS OF COCAINE:

Inside the MedellĂ­n Cartel

By Guy Gugliotta (Author) , Jeff Leen (Author)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1989
ISBN: 671-649574
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

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.