Desperados by Elaine Smith – A Review

cover desperados by elaine shannon

Greetings again Earthlings. Puck here with another book recommedation. I happened to stumble upon this amazing nonfiction by accident, and I am so glad that I did. I am somewhat new to the War on Drugs, but from what I understand and what I read in this book, it has a very long and very troubled history. The abduction and murder of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena is the epitome of the problems that have plagued the War on Drugs for decades.
Elaine Shannon masterfully retells the story of Kiki Camarena, working in Mexico to put a dent in the flow of narcotics going into the U.S. Tragically understaffed, he was losing his virtuous and valiant battle. Despite being severely out manned, and having little to no resources to speak of, Camarena was able to eliminate a massive marijuana growing operation, burning 2,500 acres of marijuana estimated to produce $8 billion annually.
Guadalajara, the capital of the state of Jalisco, was a hotbed for cartel activity, and Camarena often could not even get support from the U.S. government for which he worked, much less the Mexican government that resented his presense. Death threats were almost a daily occurrance for the agents in Guadalajara, which you could count on one of your human hands. A side note, I do not have what you would call fingers, you would probably refer to them as tentacles, but as I understand it the term tentacles has a somewhat nauseating effect on humans, so I will say fingers. But, I only have a total of seven. That is enough extraterrestrial anatomy for now.
Despite all of the dangers and hazards, Camarena never stopped doing what he was there to do. Take drugs off the street, and prevent the cartels from profitting from them. He and his fellow agents complained constantly to their superiors that they needed more man power, that they needed more cooperation from the Mexican government and police, and probably more presciently that the lack of support would eventually lead to cataclysm.
But the warnings were still ignored, and Camarena and his fellow agents worked with what they had. On February 7, 1985 he was abducted by corrupt Mexican police officers. He was tortured for two days, all of which was recorded on audio tapes later discovered by the DEA. He was murdered on February 9, and his body and that of his DEA pilot Alfredo Zavala-Avelar were discovered in the state of Sinaloa.
If you thought that this would be the wake up call that the U.S. government and the Mexican government needed to change their ways and really start the War on Drugs, think again. The majority of the rest of the book describes the completely inadequate and incompetent investigation into the kidnapping and murder, and it is difficult to understand how two entire countries, one of which claims to be the most powerful in the world, were not able to work together long enough to figure out who was involved and bring them to justice.
This book should serve as a rallying call to all humans to bring about an end to the corruption that eats away at the governments that rule them. But more importantly, it is also a tribute to Enrique Camarena and his work trying to put an end to the never ending abuse and destruction of the victims of the drug trade.
Now I am not saying that the victims of the drug trade are people who smoke marijuana or use other drugs deamed harmful. Rather, I am saying that the victims of the drug trade are the people the are trappled on and manipulated and used by the cartels to get what they want; money. The drugs are only a medium for them to exert power. If it weren’t drugs, you can be sure that they would find whatever else they could exploit to get money.
And Kiki Camarena understood that. And he worked his entire career to putting an end to it. The number of lives that he saved I can’t even begin to estimate, but I’m sure he would find joy in the fact that it was more than the cartel was able to take from him. By a long shot.
Puck from Venus, out!!


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