Narconomics (Paperback)

How to Run a Drug Cartel

By Tom Wainwright

PublicAffairs, 9781610397704, 288pp.

Publication Date: April 11, 2017

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (2/23/2016)
MP3 CD (9/13/2016)

List Price: 16.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


What drug lords learned from big business

How does a budding cartel boss succeed (and survive) in the $300 billion illegal drug business? By learning from the best, of course. From creating brand value to fine-tuning customer service, the folks running cartels have been attentive students of the strategy and tactics used by corporations such as Walmart, McDonald's, and Coca-Cola.
     And what can government learn to combat this scourge? By analyzing the cartels as companies, law enforcers might better understand how they work—and stop throwing away $100 billion a year in a futile effort to win the “war” against this global, highly organized business.
     Your intrepid guide to the most exotic and brutal industry on earth is Tom Wainwright. Picking his way through Andean cocaine fields, Central American prisons, Colorado pot shops, and the online drug dens of the Dark Web, Wainwright provides a fresh, innovative look into the drug trade and its 250 million customers.
     The cast of characters includes “Bin Laden,” the Bolivian coca guide; “Old Lin,” the Salvadoran gang leader; “Starboy,” the millionaire New Zealand pill maker; and a cozy Mexican grandmother who cooks blueberry pancakes while plotting murder. Along with presidents, cops, and teenage hitmen, they explain such matters as the business purpose for head-to-toe tattoos, how gangs decide whether to compete or collude, and why cartels care a surprising amount about corporate social responsibility.
More than just an investigation of how drug cartels do business, Narconomics is also a blueprint for how to defeat them.

About the Author

Tom Wainwright formerly the Economist's reporter in Mexico City, where he covered Mexico, Central America and the United States border region, is now the magazine's Britain editor. He is a contributor to the Times, Guardian, and Literary Review.

Praise For Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel

“[Tom Wainwright] brings a fine and balanced analytical mind to some very good research…By looking at the drug trade as a business, Wainwright is able to reveal much about why it wreaks such havoc in Central and South America. Wainwright show[s] how drug violence is not so much senseless but the devastating result of economic calculations taken to their brutal extreme. [His] conclusion is titled 'Why Economists Make the Best Police Officers.' It is one of the pithiest and most persuasive arguments for drug law reform I have ever read.”—Misha Glenny, New York Times Sunday Book Review

“[Wainwright's] book is courageous on several levels… [he] challenges everyone at once—the dealers, the drug czars, and the bystanders in between. A daring work of investigative journalism and a well-reasoned argument for smarter drug policies.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Tom Wainwright of the Economist brings a fine and balanced analytical mind to some very good research…”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Readers interested in the intersection of crime, economics, entrepreneurship, and law enforcement will find this work fascinating.”—Library Journal

“A lively and engaging book, informed by both dogged reporting and gleanings from academic research...”—Wall Street Journal

"Tom Wainwright has powerfully argued in favor of legalizing drugs. He says that the policies aimed at stifling the drug trade seem to be misdirected and have failed... a controversial but well-argued book... a must-read for everyone interested in solving the drug issue. Wainwright makes a lot of sense at a time when the world seems helpless against drug traffickers."—The Washington Book Review