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Reviews of Blood Gun Money by Ioan Grillo

Blood Gun Money

How America Arms Gangs and Cartels

by Ioan Grillo

Blood Gun Money by Ioan Grillo X
Blood Gun Money by Ioan Grillo
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2021, 400 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 23, 2023, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Scott C. Martin
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About this Book

Book Summary

The gun control debate is revived with every mass shooting. But far more people die from gun deaths on the street corners of inner city America and across the border as Mexico's powerful cartels battle to control the drug trade.

Guns and drugs aren't often connected in our heated discussions of gun control―but they should be. In Ioan Grillo's groundbreaking new work of investigative journalism, he shows us this connection by following the market for guns in the Americas and how it has made the continent the most murderous on earth.

Grillo travels to gun manufacturers, strolls the aisles of gun shows and gun shops, talks to FBI agents who have infiltrated biker gangs, hangs out on Baltimore street corners, and visits the ATF gun tracing center in West Virginia. Along the way, he details the many ways that legal guns can cross over into the black market and into the hands of criminals, fueling violence here and south of the border. Simple legislative measures would help close these loopholes, but America's powerful gun lobby is uncompromising in its defense of the hallowed Second Amendment. Perhaps, however, if guns were seen not as symbols of freedom, but as key accessories in our epidemics of addiction, the conversation would shift. Blood Gun Money is that conversation shifter.

1
The Guns of El Chapo

Freedom is beautiful.

—Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, shortly
before his third capture, in 2016

Finally seeing El Chapo in the flesh, a few feet away from me, conjured mixed emotions.

Like many in the Brooklyn courtroom, I felt a rush being so close to such a notorious villain as Joaquín Guzmán, who is up there with Pablo Escobar and Al Capone as the most infamous gangsters of the last century. Not only journalists but fans and tourists had been queuing up to get a sight of the sixty-one-year-old from Mexico's Sierra Madre mountains and see his beauty-queen wife in the gallery. Only the first few dozen would make it into the courtroom, fifty more into an overflow room to watch it on screens, with the rest turned away, so people were arriving earlier and earlier to get in line. On that January 2019 morning, while the polar vortex sprinkled snow on New York, I arrived at four-forty a.m. and still only just made it onto a courtroom bench.

...

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Reviews

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The strength of the book lies in how Grillo uses his journalistic skills to tell personal stories that link together into a larger narrative. He is especially effective when narrating the accounts from individuals in Latin America who describe how they entered the world of crime. Perhaps it is the subject matter, but the narrative of the book tends to spiral off into multiple directions not always circling back to the original point. Overall, Blood Gun Money is a solid account that offers a fresh perspective on an issue that has significant domestic and international ramifications...continued

Full Review (660 words).

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(Reviewed by Scott C. Martin).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
An eye-opening investigation of the relationship among gun violence and the drug and arms trades...Vigorous on-the-ground reporting and a big-picture view combine to make this a jarring portrait of clear and present danger.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[A]n alarming and deeply reported account of how the U.S. gun trade fuels bloodshed, terror, and refugee crises throughout the Western hemisphere...This expert account makes the high cost of America's thirst for guns crystal clear.

The Washington Post
Expertly maps the grisly North American landscape for firearms.

Author Blurb Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight
While Americans fear mass shootings, Ioan Grillo's fascinating and well-researched book shows that gun trafficking is the most important gun issue of our time.

Author Blurb Don Winslow, author of The Cartel and The Border
Ioan Grillo is one of the best reporters covering the cartels, crime and carnage south of the border. In Blood Gun Money, he traces the drug-gun pipeline that runs straight from that violence to the beating heart of America. It's even weirder and bloodier than the fiction.

Author Blurb Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevera
Written in a gripping narrative style and with details gleaned from firsthand reporting, Ioan Grillo has written a vitally important book about the 'iron river.'

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

How Drug Cartels Became a Potent Force in Mexico

Joaquin El Chapo Guzman Loera in handcuffs flanked by US special agentsOne of the main areas of focus in Blood Gun Money is the role of drug cartels in criminal activity in Mexico. In particular, two organizations are cited multiple times: Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel. Both are known for the number of enemies they've dispatched and their brutal methods of doing so. As stated in the book, guns, many of which are procured in the United States, are used by the cartels to maintain their power and status.

The presence of drug cartels in Mexico in their modern iterations goes back decades. Most got their start as smaller, family-run organizations that oversaw the production and distribution of drugs derived from cannabis and opium. In the late 20th century, these cartels had the tacit support of the Mexican ...

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