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The Infiltrator: My Secret Life Inside the Dirty Banks Behind Pablo Escobar's Medellín Cartel

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,037 ratings  ·  77 reviews
The electrifying true story of Robert Mazur's life as an undercover agent who infiltrated one of the world's largest drug cartels by posing as a high-level money launderer -- the inspiration for the major motion picture The Infiltrator.

Robert Mazur spent years undercover infiltrating the Medellín Cartel's criminal hierarchy. The dirty bankers and businessmen he befriended
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published July 27th 2009 by Little, Brown and Company (first published July 1st 2009)
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Start your review of The Infiltrator: My Secret Life Inside the Dirty Banks Behind Pablo Escobar's Medellín Cartel
M.L. Rudolph
Jan 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
2009. Without complicit bankers there is nowhere for the drug trade to wash its billions.

Robert Mazur, Italian American, joined the IRS out of college and became a special agent for their Intelligence Division. In Tampa he learned how to work an undercover identity. After a successful case under his belt, he was offered a job with U.S. Customs meaning a pay cut, a million miles less of red tape, and his dream job.

At his new job, Robert Mazur became Robert Musella, a cover identity close enough
Doug Cornelius
Robert Mazur provides an encyclopedic account of his undercover work. His work to the arrest of dozens of drug traffickers and money launders. It also led to the dismantling of BCCI, a large banking operation that seemed focused on dirty money.

Unfortunately, the book also reads like an encyclopedia. Most disappointing was the the book provided little insight on how money laundering works. I was hoping for a bit more insight.
Jordan McPeek
Mar 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
Even though you know this is the story of the biggest undercover operation in US history, you don't know the details. So this book reads like a thriller. You don't know who's going to get caught, and who's going to get away. You don't know if the agents escaped unharmed. You don't know how much they seized. And it just rips along. They keep getting in deeper and deeper, and higher and higher. Setbacks, risks, mistakes all threaten to send it off the rails, much of it due to other agents and agen ...more
Laurel Starkey
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill: we will battle them in the mountains; we will battle them at sea; we will battle them at their banking houses .... This is a war report from the bureaucratic front, of the role that the "other agency " plays in taking down narcos. Namely, the U.S. Customs Service.

Agent Bob Mazur details his undercover work as a money launderer. He was remarkably successful and the end result was a series of high level arrests. What makes the book so interesting though is not
Jessie Seymour
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
It's funny that I read this book when I did because my boyfriend and I have been watching Narcos on Netflix, which is a docudrama about Pablo Escobar and the Medellin cartel. Watching the show and reading this book at the same time, it's given me two different perspectives about the same thing. Narcos follows two DEA agents actually going after Pablo. The Infiltrator is told by an undercover Customs agent set on bringing down the dirty banks and money laundering groups who are financing the cart ...more
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not A thrilling book if that is what you are searching for. But a great beginners book on how-to money launder. Nicely descriptive and good application of examples for those starting out.
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book I read called the infiltrator, is the harrowing tale of author Robert Mazur’s undercover journey to the heart of the Medellin Cartel. Mazur goes undercover as Bob Musella, and has to slowly work his way up through the ranks of the Medellin Cartel befriending bankers, drug distributors, and money launderers. Overall, the story is about trust, betrayal, and the difficulties of doing what's right in a bureaucracy. The author through writing this book, is trying to convey the message be war ...more
Jacob B. Litchfield
This book had a good story line although some chapters, through both length and lack of events, could sometimes drag on. After getting past the halfway point the book begins to pick up pace and becomes much more enjoyable and entertaining to read. Following the completion of the book I intend to watch the new movie. I believe this book'a storyline would make an excellent movie so I hope it holds up. All in all the first half let the rating down and if it was a entertaining as the second half it ...more
Syed Gilani
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well, here is Elite, their schemes, their corruption and more importantly, Tax evasions. If you want to know, how world works today, here is your guide book.

I am not sure if it was first time, someone decided to go after the money, instead of Drug shipments, but it worked amazingly, and that lead investigators to bring down BCCI, although many of the culprits are still untouchable, even some had succeeded to become Ministers in Pakistan.
Pam Gallegos
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was a great book, once you got past the sordid details which had to be told and explained with all the names and positions. The intensity had me on the end of my seat. The friendships Robert forged with these criminals that he had to betray in the end felt terribly sad but had to be done. It was violent, yes, but it's a crime novel, this stuff really happened. I enjoyed it! ...more
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good read. Brave man.
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes thrillers & anyone interested in learning more about the drug underworld
This is a true story that reads like a nonfiction thriller. Mazur gives us some of his background - how he first got into the business, how he first went undercover for the IRS Intelligence Division, how he ended up in U.S. Customs in Tampa. He explains how he went about creating a cover for himself that would allow him to get intel on drug traffickers.

Then he takes us along with him as he discovers who are the key players - the drug lords, the suppliers & distributors, the cash collectors & the
Nick Moser
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book after seeing the movie, the story is fascinating. Never really knew much about money laundering or how cartels moved their money around the world. This gives an inside look as to how it's done. These cartels seem far away, but really their money impacts much more than you expect and you will probably see something in your life that has been impacted by dirty money.

There are many more fascinating and maddening pieces of the story that the movie didn't go into. Like everything th
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
A couple of things about this book. Facts and information are good but too much detail can make a person lose interest. There were so many names and places in detail that towards the end I just wanted it to get over. The second thing is that the title is true but there is extremely, almost non-existence, of information about Pablo Escobar. Yes, it was about the people in the cartel but not Escobar. The information and basis for the book are very interesting and just goes to reinforce the corrupt ...more
Henry Holt
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Infiltrator is a very unique book. The true story of Robert Mazur going undercover (as Bob Musella) as a money launderer is nowhere near any other undercover story. He expanded his business as he became associates with some of the biggest names in the drug cartel. He, along with his partner, spent years of hard work, recorded conversations, and feuds with their own government to arrest 40 men and an entire bank. Not many people can boast about the time that they took down the largest drug ca ...more
A very good book about a customs agent who infiltrates the money laundering operations of the Medellin cartel. Detailed operations on how dirty money is moved in and out of the United States how the cartels and corrupt banks like BCCI operated. The sheer idiocy of superiors, politicians and other agents out to grab glory who put the undercover agent’s life in peril is particularly telling. For instance, he details how the operation had to be wrapped up in October so the head of the office could ...more
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was published in 2009, but it describes undercover activity from the late 1980's.

This really isn't thrilling. It is an account of how an IRS agent left due to paperwork and red tape, in favor of joining US Customs. He and his colleagues skirted a variety of internal rules to launder money for cartels, then turned the matter over to the US Attorney's office for prosecution.

The writing isn't *bad* but it is clear that a CPA wrote this.
Daniel Esquivel
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a good book…and the eternal rule that the movie is not even close to be as good as a book fully applies here, so if you have seen the movie and you liked it then you have to read the book.

Is very engaging, you get connected pretty fast and it’s the kind of book you “manage” so that it doesn’t end soon. It is not the best book I have read but is quite ok and reveals details on the money laundering biz structure and shows how the money is moved around the world to get cleaned.
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Riveting from start to finish. this book documents the undercover investigations into drug sourced money laundering that eventually brought down BCCI , the bank that also laundered billions of dollars of stolen wealth for African dictators and their cronies. indeed the weak but vital link in the drug trade are the banks/bankers......the more a hauled to jail the greater the chances of winning this global war
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
This book is an indictment of the international banking system that allows criminals and the ultra-wealthy to wash their dirty money. Nothing has changed since its publication in 2009; witness the activities of Donald Trump's favourite bank. Robert Mazur is a true hero for fighting corruption as well as standing up to back-stabbing government agencies with their murky political influences . Eat the Rich. ...more
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read like a thriller novel but it really happened. What a brave individual whilst working undercover with his colleagues had less than acceptable help from his Customs organisation.

Once you get used to the diary format it reads reasonably well and you find yourself caught up in the events and timing leading to the end.
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first saw the movie, and had wanted to read the book ever since. The book did not disappoint. I didn't follow all the financial transactions detailed, but that did not hinder my enjoyment of the story. For some reason, I love reading about clandestine services, spycraft, and danger. I appreciate Mr. Mazur's work, and I share his frustration with political work associates. ...more
Brad Hayes
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had a difficult time keeping straight all the names that appear in this book, and after one reading, I'm still pretty foggy on the details of how money laundering works . . . but, it's a riveting read, nonetheless. ...more
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just another example of how the book is so much more than the movie. Robert Mazur shows how thinking outside the box and being meticulous is the only way to take down criminal organizations and the banks that help them.
Peter Glover
Jul 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
Worst book I’ve ever read. I am a sucker for undercover books, but this one is like reading a manual on how to put home entertainment system together. The author is too precise and confusing. I wasted a month of my summer reading this garbage.
Quick impressions: Overall a very interesting read. Mazur gives a lot of insight into how undercover work actually works, with a lot of attention to small details. If you like stories like Donnie Brasco's, you will probably like this one as well.

Full review to post on my blog later.
Joe Espo
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I rarely give two stars but... there are paragraphs that say (paraphrasing as I read hard copy) "I woke up and had coffee, ate granola infused with yogurt. Then I ran 5 miles. I came home and showered." He lists out nearly every time he goes for a run and it makes for a maddening read tempo. ...more
Avinash K
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Stunning, absolutely stunning... the story that is... It is hard to believe that there are people taking such risks. Quite well written, bogs you down here and there but that's ok, I guess.
Definitely recommend it.
May 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't get into this book. Although I don't think it was a bad story, or poorly written. ...more
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is the basis of the 2016 movie The Infiltrator. The adage follow the money is so true.
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Contemporary YA: The Infiltrator Book vs. Movie 3 6 Jun 30, 2016 09:17AM  

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