New Shows Examine CIA's Past Role in Latin America's Drug Trade

New Shows Examine CIA's Past Role in Latin America's Drug Trade

A pair of new television programs tackles the role of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the erection of Latin American drug routes, and while neither breaks much new ground, both reflect lingering suspicions regarding the agency's legacy in the region.


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  • 'Sicario' Presents Dramatized Yet Refreshing Drug Critique

    Benicio del Toro in "Sicario"

    The recently released movie "Sicario," while at times presenting an exaggerated depiction of Mexico's drug violence and US counter-cartel strategy, offers a harsh but refreshing critique of regional anti-drug efforts.  

  • Latin America's Top 5 Crime Clichés

    Pablo Escobar's death immortalized in a Fernando Botero painting

    Organized crime has become deeply embedded in Latin culture, and its terminology has been incorporated into everyday language, indeed now becoming cliché. 

  • 'Cartel Land' Paints Stunning, Dark Picture of Mexico Vigilantes

    'Cartel Land' looks at anti-cartel vigilantes

    Perhaps the single most important factor explaining the power of organized crime in Mexico is government dysfunction. It is appropriate, then, that official missteps are the mostly unspoken core of "Cartel Land," a new documentary from Matthew Heineman that divides its time between a vigilante group in Arizona and the self-defense militias of Michoacan.

  • 'The End of Power' for LatAm's Underworld

    Moises Naim's 'The End of Power'

    “From boardrooms to battlefields and churches to states, why being in charge isn't what it used to be,” reads the front cover of best-selling book “The End of Power.” The same is true for underworlds across Latin America. 

  • Colombia Raids 'Luxury' Prison Wing

    The "parapolitics" wing of Colombia's La Picota prison

    Colombia's prison authorities have moved to "retake" a section of the country's most notorious prison, after reports emerged of the luxury lifestyles of the wealthy inmates living there. 

  • New Book Levels Serious Drug Trafficking Allegations Against Venezuela Officials

    Diosdado Cabello with Nicolas Maduro

    A new book documenting alleged links between Venezuela officials and the drug trade is astounding in the scope of its accusations, and alleges that corruption and involvement in drug trafficking have penetrated the upper echelons of the country's government.

  • The Origins of Mexico's Drug Violence: a Rebuttal

    A US-Mexico border checkpoint

    As part of an ongoing debate about the relationship between free trade and Mexico's drug war, authors Mike Wallace and Carmen Boullosa* respond to a critique of their book "A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the Mexican Drug War." InSight Crime published an article about the book on April 6, and Manuel Suarez, one of the negotiators of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), responded. Here is the authors' rebuttal. 

  • How 100 Years of Failed Drug Policy Gave Rise to Mexico's Cartels

    Felipe Calderon and Barack Obama

    Many say Mexico's war on drugs began after former President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006, but a new book suggests that the genesis was prohibitive drug policies enacted by the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, a process that was later fueled by an economic trade agreement.

  • City in Mexico Bans Narco Songs

    Popular Narco Corrido band Los Tigres Del Norte

    A ban on music inspired by drug trafficking and organized crime bosses underscores the illicit trade's impact on modern Mexican culture.

  • A Look at Paraguay's Narco-Churches

    The church belonging to alleged drug trafficker "Gringo"

    A series of recently published photos -- showing churches owned by alleged drug traffickers in Paraguay-- is a reminder of the sometimes complicated intersection between religion and organized crime in Latin America.