Max Nova's Reviews > Los Zetas Inc.: Criminal Corporations, Energy, and Civil War in Mexico

Los Zetas Inc. by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera
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it was ok
bookshelves: crime, 2018-focus

Full review and highlights at https://books.max-nova.com/zetas-inc

For my year of "Crime and Punishment," I've been seeking books that can help me understand the flows of illicit money in the modern world. "Los Zetas, Inc." about the business practices of the notorious Los Zeta's drug cartel in Mexico seemed like it should have been a slam dunk. After all, Correa-Cabrera's stated thesis is that "this new criminal model and government reactions to it mostly benefit transnational corporate capital" - sounds like big money, right? And with "$500 million a year in bribes allocated to all levels of the Mexican government," there should be plenty of juicy corruption stories in here too? Instead of bringing the Mexican drug wars to life with anecdotes of the men and women on both sides, Correa-Cabrera opts to take an academic, quantitative perspective. Unfortunately, she falls flat, delivering a lifeless narrative that doesn't redeem itself with any real insight into the economics of the cartels. There are few hard numbers in here and lots of speculation. By the end, she's even into conspiracy theory territory - suggesting that the big oil companies are somehow in league with the cartels so that they can push Mexican peasants off of valuable oil properties and buy up the land cheaply. Interesting to note that this book is the result of research funded by George Soros's Open Society Foundations.

The most interesting part of this book was its contention that the Zetas represent a front in a Mexican civil war. And in many ways, the Zetas seem to behave like a state. I was particularly struck by the following passage which indicates that the Zetas have usurped one of the key functions of the state: a monopoly on violence in a defined territory.
According to Arron Daugherty and Steven Dudley: The Zetas are not just violent because their leaders have a penchant for aggression — they follow an economic model that relies on controlling territory in a violent way. Within that territory, they extract rents from other criminal actors and move only a limited number of illegal goods via some of their own networks... Without that territory, they have no rent (known in Mexico as “piso”). The Zetas are, in essence, parasites. Their model depends on their ability to be more powerful and violent than their counterparts, so they can extract this rent.
Overall though, if you want to learn about how drug cartels work, check out "Narconomics" (which Correa-Cabrera cites) or even Don Winslow's "The Power of the Dog" which is a fictionalized but heavily-researched account of the US/Mexico war on drug cartels.
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Reading Progress

February 8, 2018 – Shelved
February 8, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
February 8, 2018 – Shelved as: crime
February 8, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018-focus
July 5, 2018 – Started Reading
July 15, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Guadalupe (new) - added it

Guadalupe Correa Ni hablas español, ni conoces México, ni has hecho trabajo de campo. Hablas con mucha ignorancia. Don Winslow, Narcoeconomics, really? Los expertos en el tema se burlarían de tí por ignorante y analfabeta en Español. Un pobre fotógrafo mediocre y analfabeta. Ya te recomendé leer literatura en español fotógrafo amateur. Dime quién eres y qué haces además de leer ficción en un idioma extranjero. Da la cara y tus credenciales. Eres un mediocre.


message 2: by Guadalupe (new) - added it

Guadalupe Correa Cualquier experto se burlaría de ti: Don Winslow y Narcoeconomics? Can you tell us how many books have you written? I want to read your masterpieces? I am sure you cannot write. You are really mediocre in DC. We know you well.


message 3: by Max (new) - rated it 2 stars

Max Nova Hola Guadalupe! Tiene razón - no he hecho trabajo de campo, pero hablo español. Las palabras malas no son necesarias. Granted, Winslow writes (heavily researched) fiction, but why do you not find Wainwright's Narconomics (https://books.max-nova.com/narconomics/) credible?

As I mentioned in my review, my 2018 reading theme is financially-motivated crimes (https://books.max-nova.com/2018-focus/). I'd love any further book recommendations you have for learning more.


Helio I find the perspective helpful in appreciating the book.


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