A stunning investigation of the life and legend of Mexican kingpin Joaquín Archivaldo “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, building on Noah Hurowitz’s revelatory coverage for Rolling Stone of El Chapo’s federal drug-trafficking trial.
This is the true story of how El Chapo built the world’s wealthiest and most powerful drug-trafficking operation, based on months’ worth of trial testimony and dozens of interviews with cartel gunmen, Mexican journalists and political figures, Chapo’s family members, and the DEA agents who brought him down.
Over the course of three decades, El Chapo was responsible for smuggling hundreds of tons of cocaine, marijuana, heroin, meth, and fentanyl around the world, becoming in the process the most celebrated and reviled drug lord since Pablo Escobar. El Chapo waged ruthless wars against his rivals and former allies, plunging vast areas of Mexico into unprecedented levels of violence, even as many in his home state of Sinaloa continued to view him as a hero.
This unputdownable book, written by a great new talent, brings El Chapo’s exploits into a focus that previous profiles have failed to capture. Hurowitz digs in deep beyond the legends and delves into El Chapo’s life and legacy—not just the hunt for him, revealing some of the most dramatic and often horrifying moments of his notorious career, including the infamous prison escapes, brutal murders, multi-million-dollar government payoffs, and the paranoia and narcissism that led to his downfall. From the evolution of organized crime in Mexico to the militarization of the drug war to the devastation wrought on both sides of the border by the introduction of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, this book is a gripping and comprehensive work of investigative, on-the-ground reporting.
Noah Hurowitz is a journalist based in New York City. He covered the trial of El Chapo for Rolling Stone, and his work has also appeared in The Village Voice, The Baffler, New York magazine, and many more. El Chapo is his first book.
“Hurowitz fleshes out the harrowing details of Mexico’s drug violence and high-level corruption, and draws on interviews with former cartel insiders to document El Chapo’s staggering ambitions and deep-seated paranoia…. [The author’s] access to players on both sides of the drug war impresses.” —Publishers Weekly
“A fast-paced study of the infamous, now imprisoned Mexican drug lord and the social structures that supported and enabled his rise…Readers won’t look at the war on drugs the same way after reading Hurowitz’s damning account.” —Kirkus
“[A] much-needed revisit of the Chapo story...fast-paced, at times edgy...Hurowitz manages to capture the history of the drug war in Mexico well.” —Small Wars Journal
“This remarkably engaging...Truly the definitive account of the life of Joaquín Guzmán, El Chapo. Yet it is about so much more than just the world’s most infamous drug trafficker. Through the story of El Chapo, Hurowitz reveals in compelling fashion the calculated and violent absurdity that is the so-called War on Drugs—a war that has proven more effective in killing, terrorizing, and repressing poor people across the globe than stopping the flow of illicit drugs. This impressively researched book is essential reading.” —Alexander Aviña, author of Specters of Revolution: Peasant Guerrillas in the Cold War Mexican Countryside
"El Chapo buries the sensationalism and strips the myths from Mexico's most famous drug lord. Instead Hurowitz gives us a complex, but no less rollicking, portrait of a man caught between America's never-ending demand for narcotics, its persistent need for a scapegoat and a Mexican state always happy to dish one up. El Chapo is true crime biography done right." —Benjamin T. Smith, author of The Dope: The Real History of the Mexican Drug Trade
"Hurowitz did what a few American journalists or writers do: he went to Mexico to capture the background of the events that describe and explain the failure of the American war on drugs and the rise of criminals like Chapo Guzmán. El Chapo is a great book, easy to digest for readers and a fabulous explanation with a healthy narrative of the cruel reality on both sides of the Río Bravo about narcotrafficking, corruption and political blindness." —J. Jesús Esquivel, Washington DC correspondent for Proceso magazine and author of El Juicio: Crónica de la caída del Chapo
“A rare achievement: a page-turning, true crime narrative with a deep and well-researched analysis. Hurowitz details the rise to power of Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, but never takes his eye off the structures of power that facilitated it, within both the Mexican government and the global economy.” —Christy Thornton, assistant professor of sociology and Latin American studies at Johns Hopkins University and author of Revolution in Development: Mexico and the Governance of the Global Economy