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Confessions of a Cartel Hit Man  By  cover art

Confessions of a Cartel Hit Man

By: Martin Corona, Tony Rafael
Narrated by: Jacob Vargas
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Publisher's summary

The true confession of an assassin, a sicario, who rose through the ranks of the Southern California gang world to become a respected leader in an elite, cruelly efficient crew of hit men for Mexico's "most vicious drug cartel" - and eventually found a way out and a (almost) normal life.

Martin Corona, a US citizen, fell into the outlaw life at 12 and worked for a crew run by the Arellano brothers, founders of the Tijuana drug cartel that dominated the Southern California drug trade and much bloody gang warfare for decades. Corona's crew would cross into the United States from their luxurious hideout in Mexico, kill whomever needed to be killed north of the border, and return home in the afternoon. That work continued until the arrest of Javier Arellano-Félix in 2006 in a huge coordinated DEA operation. Martin Corona played a key role in the downfall of the cartel when he turned state's evidence. He confessed to multiple murders. Special Agent of the California Department of Justice Steve Duncan, who wrote the foreword, says Martin Corona is the only former cartel hit man he knows who is truly remorseful.

Martin's father was a US marine. The family had many solid middle-class advantages, including the good fortune to be posted in Hawaii for a time, during which a teenage Martin thought he might be able to turn away from the outlaw life of theft, drug dealing, gun play, and prostitution. He briefly quit drugs and held down a job, but a die had been cast. He soon returned to a gangbanging life he now deeply regrets.

How does someone become evil, a murderer who can kill without hesitation? This story is an insight into how it happened to one human being and how he now lives with himself. He is no longer a killer; he has asked for forgiveness; he has made a kind of peace for himself. He wrote letters to family members of his victims. Some of them not only wrote back but came to support him at his parole hearings. It is a cautionary tale but also one that shows that evil doesn't have to be forever.

©2017 Martin Corona and Tony Rafael (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"Corona’s engaging story offers an insider’s peek into gang and prison life, providing insight into how a seemingly average boy can become a drug kingpin and a murderer. Recommended for true crime lovers." (Library Journal)

"In the world of LA crime writers, the late great Tony Rafael was ahead of his time. He perceived truths and stories that others couldn’t, or wouldn’t. The world he helps Martin Corona take us to here is one that few writers would have dared enter, much less known how to navigate. Don’t miss this - the latest and last work of a great crime writer." (Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic)

“Martin Corona takes you inside the scary world of drug gangs and killers as only a man who walked those streets can. His book is courageous, and a gripping read. It should be required reading for anybody concerned about gang violence, street crime and border security.” (Fred Burton, vice president for Intelligence, Stratfor, former State Department special agent, and author of Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent)

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