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  • Published: 1 June 2011
  • ISBN: 9781864713114
  • Imprint: Random House Australia
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 224

El Sicario

Confessions of a Cartel Hitman




Now an Oscar-contender film featuring Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro. I'm going to tell you about 20 years of my life dedicated to serving the cartel. Serving them with these hands. Torturing people. And killing.

Now an Oscar-contender film featuring Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro. I'm going to tell you about 20 years of my life dedicated to serving the cartel. Serving them with these hands. Torturing people. And killing.

In this unprecedented and chilling monologue, a repentant Mexican hitman tells the unvarnished truth about the war on drugs on the Americans. El Sicario is the hidden face of America's war on drugs. He is a contract killer who functioned as a commandante in the Chihuahuan State police, who was trained in the US by the FBI, and who for twenty years kidnapped, tortured and murdered people for the drug industry at the behest of Mexican drug cartels. He is a hit man who came off the killing fields alive. He left the business and turned to Christ. And then he decided to tell the story of his life and work.

Charles Bowden first encountered El Sicario while reporting for the book "Murder City". As trust between the two men developed, Bowden bore witness to the Sicario's unfolding confession, and decided to tell his story. The well-spoken man that emerges from the pages of El Sicario is one who has been groomed by poverty and driven by a refusal to be one more statistic in the failure of Mexico. He is not boastful, he claims no major standing in organized crime. But he can explain in detail not only torture and murder, but how power is distributed and used in the arrangement between the public Mexican state and law enforcement on the ground - where terror and slaughter are simply tools in implementing policy for both the police and the cartels. And he is not an outlaw or a rebel. He is the state.

When he headed the state police anti-kidnapping squad in Juarez, he was also running a kidnapping ring in Juarez. When he was killing people for money in Juarez, he was sharpening his marksmanship at the Federal Police range. Now he lives in the United States as a fugitive. One cartel has a quarter million dollar contract on his head. Another cartel is trying to recruit him.

He speaks as a free man and of his own free will - there are no charges against him. He is a lonely voice - no one with his background has ever come forward and talked. He is the future - there are thousands of men like him in Mexico and there will be more in other places. He is the truth no one wants to hear.

  • Published: 1 June 2011
  • ISBN: 9781864713114
  • Imprint: Random House Australia
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 224

About the authors

Charles Bowden

Award-winning journalist Charles Bowden is the critically acclaimed author of numerous books, including Down by the River, Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing and Murder City. He writes for Harper's, GQ, National Geographic and others. He lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Molly Molloy

Molly Molloy is a research librarian at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She is an experienced translator and specialist in Latin American Studies and edits the FRONTERA-LIST, an online chronicle of the violence in Mexico and other border issues.

Praise for El Sicario

El Sicario is not an easy book to read but it is darkly entertaining. It is also a revelation on one of the greatest ongoing crime wars of our time.

Charles Purcell, The Sydney Morning Herald

True crime fans should find the book a worthy addition to the genre.

Courier Mail

Once in a while, a book comes along that rocks your world with such violent force that you will never be the same. El Sicario edited by Molly Molloy and Charles Bowden, is such a book.

Tucson Weekly

[A] glimpse into the brutal world of Mexican drug wars and a man tasked with pulling the trigger and torturing rivals. It's bloody, scary and disturbing.

Time Out

Told in El Sicario's own words, there could be no better or more vivid description of what it takes to kill to order… a chilling description of the darker side of Mexican life.

Sunday Life Ireland

It is a rare treat to hear such a story straight from the lion's mouth, one that offers a valuable glimpse into the mechanisms of recruitment within drug organizations and their precise divisions of labor…However the reader judges the storyteller, the book [El Sicario] offers a look into the back halls behind the official story of Mexico and adds complexity to our understanding of the tight grip that drug organizations hold over Mexican society as a whole.

El Paso Times

El Sicario graphically illustrates the violence that has seized that nation. . . . The book, adapted from the award-winning documentary that was shown on French and German television in November 2010, should serve as a wakeup call to our own lawmakers, causing them to rethink the tax dollars sent south of the border each year. . . . Mr. Bowden and Ms. Molloy sat down with a monster-yet lived to tell his story.

New York Journal of Books

These revelations ring true today in light of the mass graves uncovered in San Fernando, Tamaulipas. The sicario's testimony strips the mask off government corruption and lays bare the impunity enjoyed by criminals as well as the untouchability of police and soldiers immersed in the militarized struggle launched by Calderon against drug cartels.

Proceso (Mexico City)

A participant in Mexico's orgy of drug violence bares his soul in this rambling confessional, expanded from a Harper's Magazine piece and film documentary. The anonymous author, a former hit man for the Juarez drug cartel who cops to hundreds of murders, details the vida loca of an archetypal narco-traficante: the meticulous procedures for kidnapping, torturing, murdering, dismembering, and burying victims; the drugs and hookers that make the routine bearable; the abject servility to cartel bosses whose word is law, even if it means executing close colleagues. . . . The book's eyewitness vérité style makes for a colorful story…

Publishers Weekly

A reformed assassin's tell-all of the horrors endured and executed throughout his years in the Mexican drug trade. Editors Molloy (Research Librarian/New Mexico State Univ.) and Bowden (Murder City, 2010, etc.) introduce the reader to the mysterious El Sicario, a high-level killer speaking out for the first time. . . . While somewhat unique, El Sicario's tale is also quite familiar-one in which the power of money, drugs and women all play a role in achieving the necessary numbness required to carry out unspeakable crimes.

Kirkus Reviews

Mexico’s savage drug wars are nowhere more evident than in Cuidad Juarez, where last year murders averaged 8.5 a day. El Sicario’s profession is busy, but hit man can become hit in the twitch of a trigger. Essentially a transcript in El Sicario’s own words, this is assassination unplugged: as real as it gets.

QANTAS magazine

While serving as a policeman and being trained by the FBI, this now wanted man was working for a Mexican cartel, kidnapping, torturing and killing hundreds of people. In his own voice, “El Sicario” tells the unvarnished truth about the war on drugs in America. His chilling confessions span 20 years of corruption, bribery and murder. Now, with a $250,000 price on his head, the fugutive reveals the brutality of the Mexican cartels and stark realities of how the drug underworld operates.

Australian Mens Fitness

Delivered as a one-way conversation, this brutally honest memoir also covers the deterioration of the drug cartels in recent years to what can only be described as total anarchy; murder rates have increased tenfold, people are killed in the streets, so-called safe houses hide hundreds of murdered people and corruption runs rife in all levels of government. El Sicario reads like a far-fetched fictional thriller, but it is a sad account of the very visible and unconstrained underbelly of Mexico’s drug cartels.

Good Reading

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