Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel

Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel

Tom Wainwright

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 1610395832

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


What drug lords learned from big business

How does a budding cartel boss succeed (and survive) in the $300 billion illegal drug business? By learning from the best, of course. From creating brand value to fine-tuning customer service, the folks running cartels have been attentive students of the strategy and tactics used by corporations such as Walmart, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola.
     And what can government learn to combat this scourge? By analyzing the cartels as companies, law enforcers might better understand how they work—and stop throwing away $100 billion a year in a futile effort to win the “war” against this global, highly organized business.
     Your intrepid guide to the most exotic and brutal industry on earth is Tom Wainwright. Picking his way through Andean cocaine fields, Central American prisons, Colorado pot shops, and the online drug dens of the Dark Web, Wainwright provides a fresh, innovative look into the drug trade and its 250 million customers.
     The cast of characters includes “Bin Laden,” the Bolivian coca guide; “Old Lin,” the Salvadoran gang leader; “Starboy,” the millionaire New Zealand pill maker; and a cozy Mexican grandmother who cooks blueberry pancakes while plotting murder. Along with presidents, cops, and teenage hitmen, they explain such matters as the business purpose for head-to-toe tattoos, how gangs decide whether to compete or collude, and why cartels care a surprising amount about corporate social responsibility.
More than just an investigation of how drug cartels do business, Narconomics is also a blueprint for how to defeat them.

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Texas border. In March 2015, Mexican security forces captured his brother and successor, Omar, in a luxury home in a suburb of the northern city of Monterrey. One might have expected the methodical elimination of most of the country’s leading criminal kingpins to put the cartels out of business. In fact, it did no such thing. Throughout Calderón’s presidency, the quantity of drugs being smuggled over the American border showed little sign of diminishing, and the number of young men going into

particular, US borders have become more tightly policed (to the irritation of legitimate businesspeople as well as crooks: “El Homeland Security—ay, cabrón!” a Juárez barman once complained to me, lamenting the fall in business from American day-trippers). But a perverse economic consequence of tightening up the border is that each crossing point has become more valuable. The 2,000-mile frontier between Mexico and the world’s largest drug market has only forty-seven official border crossings—and

deliver cash to London to someone employed purely to collect the money, for which he was paid �250 a day. Another person was paid the same amount to count it (he would tot up as much as �220,000 in a typical day’s work). A third person delivered payments to two people: a Venezuelan woman who helped the Colombians to get their money back to Spain, and a “money holder” who stored the cash earned by the enterprise. The ringleaders employed a chauffer, too, for �200 a day. In total, the pair dealt

“powerful Mafiosi” to enforce the agreement. Everyone was happy: the millers made more money for doing less work and the mafia presumably collected a cut. Only the poor consumer was worse off, paying higher prices for bad flour and enduring second-rate spaghetti. Organized criminal groups have provided similar services ever since, acting as the enforcers of contracts between businesses that cannot use the courts because they are selling an illegal product, such as drugs, or taking part in an

proposed sum of $1 million. When Rosen left the country the “opportunity” still puzzled him, but his interest had been piqued. Back in the United States, he discovered in his research that moon rocks could fetch much higher prices. So the following year he returned to Honduras, where he managed to arrange a meeting with the colonel, who by this time seemed very anxious to close a deal. It emerged that the rock—really more of a pebble, weighing little more than a gram—had been given to the people

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