The inside story of drug-trafficker Pablo Acosta and his Mexican empire, which was responsible for smuggling 20 tons of cocaine a year into the US. Written by a reporter for the El Paso Herald Post, the work is impressive for its thorough investigatory research--Poppa interviewed the reclusive Acosta six months before the drug lord's death--and for its lively style. Born of an impoverished peon family in northern Mexico, Pablo Acosta migrated to the US, where he eventually fell afoul of the law and was forced to flee back to the land of his birth. With the break-up of a previous drug cartel in the border town of Ojinaga, he was able through sheer ruthlessness and well-placed bribes to Mexican bigwigs to establish a network of producers, processors, and couriers that supplied narcotics--heroin, marijuana, and cocaine--in immense quantities to Stateside dealers and users. With a keen eye for detail, Poppa captures the mayhem that resulted, and limns striking portraits that range from Colombian mobsters to a US Senator's niece who became involved in the grim business to Acosta himself--who was finally killed for his overweening ambition by the very federales he'd paid off for so many years. A solid job that reveals, from the viewpoint of the smugglers themselves, a seamy world of power struggles, assassination attempts, murders, and political corruption south of the border.