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Drug Lord: The Life & Death of a Mexican Kingpin-A True Story Paperback – February 23, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pablo Acosta, born in abject poverty in Mexico, became drug czar of Ojinaga across the border from the Big Bend country of Texas. He launched his career by smuggling marijuana and heroin into the U.S., later adding cocaine, and forging an alliance with Colombian drug traders. At the peak, he may have controlled 60% of the coke trafficked into the U.S., according to Poppa. The author shows that Acosta consolidated his power by murdering rivals, corrupting local police and soldiers, distributing money to the poor and contributing generously to civic projects. Eventually, however, he became a coke addict; his iron entrepreneurial grip slipped; and he was tracked down and killed in 1987 by an international narcotic strike force. Poppa interviewed the drug lord in 1986 for the El Paso Herald-Post and bases this enlightening book in part on those talks. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Pablo Acosta was a living legend in his Mexican border town of Ojinaga. He smuggled tremendous amounts of drugs into the United States; he survived numerous attempts on his power--and his life--by rivals; and he blessed the town with charity and civic improvements. He was finally slain in 1987, during a raid by Mexican officials with the cooperation of U.S. law enforcement. Poppa, a news reporter and Pulitzer Prize finalist for his work on this story, has turned out a detailed and exciting book, covering in depth Acosta's life; the other drug factions that battled with him; the village of Ojinaga; and the logistics of the drug operation. The result is a nonfiction account with enough greed, treachery, shoot-outs, and government corruption to fascinate true crime and crime fiction readers alike. Highly recommended.
- Sally G. Waters, Stetson Law Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Demand Publications; 2 Revised edition (February 23, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966443004
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966443004
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,741,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
64%
4 star
23%
3 star
13%
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See all 56 customer reviews
Very well written book and extremely interesting.
Pam
If you want to understand what is currently going on with the drug cartels on the U.S. Mexican border, read this book.
Elliot Malach
When you read the book you will picture in your mind everything that is going on just like I did.
Chris

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
I had the privelege of living close to Ojinaga during the time Acosta was alive. I remember very vividly when he was shot on the other side of the border by Federal Agents. I had never met Acosta nor his direct enemies, but was acquainted with relatives of Arevelo's. I know his son and the book does not lie. This was every day life for the people of Ojinaga. It is run by druglords still to this day, but to the ignorant eye, you only see a run-down, dusty- almost surreal town of nothingness. Most border towns are gleaming with touristy shops and a bustling market. Not Ojinaga. Bulletholes are still in the side of the Bikini Bar in the Sqaure where a gunfight broke out between Acosta's men and his rival- Most roads are not even paved and Donkeys are a coomon site even in the downtown area. People still talk of him and how he helped the entire town- throwing parties- giving people money- helping out the needy. I read this book and it was almost like listening to Arevelo's son and other residents of O.J. tell me the stories before Poppa ever even wrote the book.
Pablo Acosta was no glamour-big shot- He looked like the illegal alien you would see working illegally on a ranch in the hot sun of South Texas. Rough hands, sun-dried skin. I have seen pictures of him other than the book and the book depicts him perfectly. He was a genuine, deep rooted Mexican drug smuggler with nothing to prove other than the fact he knew how to get his drugs across the border and get paid for it. If you like mafia movies, books- if you are looking for genuine stories that depict real life- things you can almost relate to-- this is the book you need to get. It turns you on to the world of real life drug smuggling in Mexico-- The dirtiness of it. The everyday Mexican that turns from a nobody into a native hero and a foreign enemy.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 4, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read Drug Lord, the Life and Death of a Mexican Kingpin, two years ago and was amazed by the amount of information the author was able to pack into the narrative without bogging it down. For me, it was like a journey through the looking glass, stepping into the distorted realities of a Mexico run by a perverse and frightening political system. I ended up sympathizing with Pablo Acosta, wishing he would save himself by giving up to the Americans. His misdeeds as a border drug trafficker were eclipsed by the ruthless system of government that exploited him. After reading Drug Lord, the stories I read about Mexico in the newspapers made so much more sense. I read the book again recently and was taken this time by the mature, vigorous and sometimes passionate prose. Some of the chapters are in fact brilliant short stories. It took a great deal of courage for an American journalist to explore this border underworld. Perhaps because of the dangers, no other American journalist that I know of has dared to repeat his noteworthy accomplishment. His work is a classic.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By bjohn316@earthlink.net on November 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
I will start by saying that I am the first Ojinaga native to admit to what was taking place in Ojinaga at the time. I grew up in the small dusty town and my father was a wealthy man and well known. We owned 4 businesses and I got to meet the Drug Lord himself while he was visiting my father at one of the liquor stores. I witness one of the executions that took place on trasvina street. This book is nothing but inside information on one of the most notorious drug lords of our time and the mentor of Amado Carrillo. It's like reading a fiction gangster moive only this is the real thing. No book I've read comes close to detailing as much information and getting the reader involved in the story. If you want to know how Amado "Lord of the Skies" Carrillo got his start and how Mafiosos lived and died, this book is a must read. I lend this book to my professor and friends and they read it in 3 days, you'll be hooked from page one. Goodfellas doesn't come close to this one.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Pablo Acosta, in his heyday, was delivering more drugs into the United States than all of the drug smugglers operating in and out of the state of Florida combined. Working out of his stronghold of Ojinaga, Chihuahua, on the border of the Texas near Big Bend National Park, he operated with impunity because of his payoffs to the Mexican Army general in Chihuahua City, who acted as the conduit for the system of bribes which is the backbone of the Mexican political system. Author Terrence Poppa first began publishing stories about Acosta and his drug ring in the El Paso Times, and later went to Ojinaga to interview Acosta and his lieutenants, in preparation for the eventual publishing of this book. Acosta was finally killed in raid conducted by Mexican police operating from American territory, after his fall from grace as the political current changed and other drug king pins prepared to take his place and offer their bribes to top Mexican officials. The epilogue in the current reprint of this classic details the system that fell into place after the fall of Acosta, when his former lieutenant, Amado Carrillo, went on to become the biggest drug king pin of them all, surpassing in power even the notorious leaders of the Columbian cartels.
Although the book is exciting and hard hitting, Poppa is alleged to have been given some erroneous information by Acosta and his associates who were attempting to conduct a rather bungling public relations exercise with the author, who proved to be gullible enough in many instances to have printed information that insiders hold in dispute. It also seems that Poppa was trying to emulate Mario Puzo and "The Godfather" in many ways, to no real benefit of the work. In spite of these flaws, this book is still one of the most revealing and important books of our times: a must for those who wish to understand the nature of this plague that is ripping apart our society from the seams.
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