Narcoland (HUM415)

Anabel Hernández’s exposé Narcoland, the English translation of her 2010 Los Señores del Narco, is due to be published in September by Verso Books. Notably for our purposes it addresses the profound link between criminal and capitalist accumulation. As Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, author of Gomorrah, writes in his foreward:

Narcoland shows how contemporary capitalism is in no position to renounce the mafia. Because it is not the mafia that has transformed itself into a modern capitalist enterprise, it is capitalism that has transformed itself into a mafia. The rules of drug trafficking that Anabel Hernández describes are also the rules of capitalism.”

Earlier treatments of the “war on drugs” and the Mexican cartels such as Charles Bowden’s Murder City, have also emphasized the connections between licit and illicit markets. Yet Hernández may be able to offer harder evidence of the link between these different domains of the global economy in terms of the investment of profits from the sale of narcotics. We already know that Bank of America, HSBC, and Wachovia laundered drug money from criminal organizations. In fact selling dope is so profitable that it appears the absorption of its proceeds by the banking “industry” was one of the primary factors in preventing the global economy from unraveling completely in the aftermath of 2007’s massive financial crisis. According to the UN’s Antonio Costa, “Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities… There were signs that some banks were rescued that way.”

The Guardian has an interesting profile of Narcoland here.