This image is the cover for the book Drug War Zone, The William & Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere

Drug War Zone, The William & Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere

A ground-level chronicle of the violent drug war in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico—with accounts from both traffickers and law enforcement, and “astute analysis” (The Americas).

Thousands die in drug-related violence every year in Mexico. Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, adjacent to El Paso, Texas, has become the most violent city in the drug war. Much of the cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine consumed in the United States is imported across the Mexican border, making El Paso/Juárez one of the major drug-trafficking venues in the world.

In this anthropological study of drug trafficking and anti-drug law enforcement efforts on the US–Mexico border, Howard Campbell uses an ethnographic perspective to chronicle the recent Mexican drug war, focusing especially on people and events in the El Paso/Juárez area. It is the first social science study of the violent drug war that is tearing Mexico apart.

Based on deep access to the drug-smuggling world, this study presents the drug war through the words of direct participants. Half of the book consists of oral histories from drug traffickers, and the other half from law enforcement officials. There is much journalistic coverage of the drug war, but very seldom are the lived experiences of traffickers and “narcs” presented in such vivid detail. In addition to providing an up-close, personal view of this world, Campbell explains and analyzes the functioning of cartels, the corruption that facilitates trafficking, the strategies of smugglers and anti-narcotics officials, and the perilous culture of drug trafficking that Campbell refers to as the “Drug War Zone.”

“This collection of oral histories of drug traffickers and counter-drug officials examines the border narco-world through the eyes of first-hand participants . . . An invaluable resource for anyone seeking a greater sociological understanding.” —Journal of Latin American Studies

Howard Campbell

HOWARD CAMPBELL is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is the co-editor of the University of Texas Press Inter-America Series.

University of Texas Press