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Publisher's Summary

In a ranch south of Texas, the man known as The Executioner dumps 500 body parts in metal barrels.

In Brazil's biggest city, a mysterious prisoner orders hit men to gun down 41 police officers and prison guards in two days.

In Southern Mexico a meth maker is venerated as a saint while enforcing Old Testament justice on his enemies.

A new kind of criminal kingpin has arisen: part CEO, part terrorist, and part rock star, unleashing guerrilla attacks, strong-arming governments, and taking over much of the world's trade in narcotics, guns, and humans. What they do affects you now - from the gas in your car to the gold in your jewelry to the tens of thousands of Latin Americans calling for refugee status in the US.

Gangster Warlords is the first definitive account of the crime wars now wracking Central and South America and the Caribbean, regions largely abandoned by the US after the Cold War.

Author of the critically acclaimed El Narco, Ioan Grillo has covered Latin America since 2001 and gained access to every level of the cartel chain of command in what he calls the new battlefields of the Americas. Moving between militia-controlled ghettos and the halls of top policy makers, Grillo provides a disturbing new understanding of a war that has spiraled out of control - one that people across the political spectrum need to confront now.

©2016 Ioan Grillo (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Grillo's investigations into the cokehead brokers, dealers and professional killers who manage the supply and demand of cocaine involves him in a degree of danger.... An absorbing work of reportage." ( Daily Telegraph)
"Grillo is a breathtakingly intrepid reporter, diving in where police fear to tread, seeking out men who wouldn't hesitate to kill him.... A grim, gripping book." (Francis Wheen, Mail on Sunday)

What listeners say about Gangster Warlords

Average Customer Ratings
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good analysis and interpretation, but...

I have worked for many years as a social scientist in Western Mexico. The description and analysis rings true with a few exceptions. Grillo centers narco activity in Michoacán as if it were only occurring in the tierra caliente (yet his cases jump around the state from the Chapala lowlands; the temperate region; and the tropical lowlands as if they were one in the same.

The narrator also manages to mangle Spanish. It’s remarkable to me that there wasn’t a great narrator available with a good working knowledge of Spanish pronunciation. Otherwise he does a sound job.

2 people found this helpful

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A Framework for Drug Work

Easy to follow explaination of how and why drug organizations of the western hemisphere rise to power, using a handful of rich examples from latin america and the carribean, most notably the usually neglected Jamaica and Brazil.

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting Twist And Turns

The narrator was awesome the insight into other worlds poverty stricken environment was eye opening this is a mist have to make other cultures and races know the world is not flat its round just because you ate dinner last night doesn't mean everyone else did ....

1 person found this helpful

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hard to keep up with story line

it was and ok listen jumped from on gang to the next couldn't really tell when he started talking about a new gang

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Wow! Incredible!

Well researched and well written. Learned quite a bit and I have been in this field for many years. Great work.

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amazing book by ioan grillo!

Grillo continues his perfect explanation of these gangs and how we got in this situation

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Love it!

loved the story but I didn't like the fake Jamaican accent. but other than that I loved it!

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In-depth journalist...

The most shocking part was the coverage of Jamaica warlord I glued to the book from then.

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The narrator...

The stories of these gangsters are great but the performance was okay by the narrator but overall I give it 4 outta 5 stars.

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Disappointed—not his best

His Narco book was WAYY better but the narrator absolutely does NOT fit the subject or topic of the book (British accent man). It was severely monotone and made me tired. Also the story itself was a little all over the place. Not his best book by far. But his El Narco book he wrote earlier was fantastic!

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  • Nick Anderson
  • 01-26-17

the greatest insight you could have!

phenomenal delivery and more depth into a secret world that would be impenetrable to the normal person

10 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 10-02-17

Intriguing, enlightening and horrifying.

I honesty thought Grillo might have been pulling my leg at some points in this book. Such as when he described the written litanies of prayer members of one Mexican drug cartel say to their founder, or the fervent socialist selling rocks of crack to the people he claims to be fighting for. But a few minutes on google confirms all these to be true, adding surreal colour to the doleful litany of murder and torture that forms the backdrop to all the people and groups he profiles, and is careful not to glamorize.

He also does an excellent job of conveying to someone who comes from a completely different world, why these loathsome bands of thugs and predators often enjoy a surprising degree of support in the communities they blight. Thriving not only through fear, but by offering a ghastly alternative government to impoverished people who feel utterly abandoned and betrayed by the authorities.

This book is well researched (at obvious risk to the author and many of his sources), well told, and opened my eyes to a world I knew little about. It's a depressing commentary on the western media that we hear almost nothing about a whole slew of countries that are in a state of de-facto civil war between gangsters and government.

The one slight criticism I have is that I would have liked a smattering of global context to get a better idea of whether this is a phenomenon more pronounced in Latin America than elsewhere.

Narrator is also very good.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Andre Anthony
  • 06-28-21

Mixed feelings

The content was great, highly informative and detailed.
The narrator themselves and very good too. However, occasionally the juxtaposition between the two is insurmountable. I think a better narrator could have been picked for this topic.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-05-21

Great read

Very interesting full of lots of information over 3 different place in South America brilliant

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  • Umar Mirza
  • 04-05-21

What an eye opener.

Haven't heard anything faster. Great intro for people not aware of this longstanding rot across Latam. Funny how it's not better known the world over. Would be amazing if author took a shot at analysing similar outcrops in other parts of the world.

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  • "supersapper"
  • 03-30-21

Brilliant!!

I absolutely loved this book! The narration is awesome too! This book is exceptional in subject matter! Some of the descriptions of the violence and gun fights are fantastic. Superb book!!

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  • davidfallon
  • 11-24-20

Very in-depth

Excellent insight to another world, some accents were a break from the seriousness of the research but over all a fascinating world put together by the author

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  • bobbybee
  • 11-21-20

An important and very informative book

The storyline has been superbly constructed after what must have been an eternity of research. The author has clearly put himself in harm’s way numerous times to get some amazing interviews that provide the listener with a wonderful insight into the subject matter. This is a book that can be listened to from start to finish then revisited by dipping into specific chapters like I will be doing.
I’ve listened intently whilst walking my dogs daily over the last week. A perfect choice.
Congrats to the narrator as well. Clear and concise throughout and never boring.
Narration is so important particularly on a book like this one. So pleased I chose it.

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  • Jon
  • 04-22-18

Fascinating.

Incredibly compelling book. Grillo has a very engaging style which really drills into this hugely complex subject. He offers an immense amount of detail which supports his reasoning and conclusions.
I will be picking up his earlier work asap.