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Drug Lord

Library Journal
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.
Kirkus Reviews
[Drug Lord] is impressive for its thorough investigatory research…and for its lively style.
Drug Lord is one of the few stories about double-dealing, murder, and endemic Mexican government corruption ever told from inside a drug ring, and is a must for anyone who wants to understand how drug rings really operate.
Dallas Morning
[Poppa] describes, with uncomplicated ease, the franchise structure of the Acosta operation—involving a kind of interlocking, horizontal integration typical of organized crime. He points out that the core of that structure is control of the corruption, not necessarily control the smuggling, a notion sometimes lost on writers who fall in love with the romance of organized crime…Perhaps that is the compliment that should be paid Mr. Poppa. He has shocked us with the conventions of the drug smuggling industry. He has penetrated its secrets and shows it to be something more ordinary than mystical.
Albuquerque Journal
Poppa is a gifted storyteller who has a clear eye for detail.
Austin American-Statesman
At times reading more like a Wild West novel than a true-to-life piece of non-fiction, Drug Lord exposes revealing snapshots of the seamy world of a drug smuggler at work
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.

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