Small Wars Journal

SWJ El Centro Book Review – El Chapo: The Untold Story of the World's Most Infamous Drug Lord 

Tue, 07/06/2021 - 9:09pm

SWJ El Centro Book Review – El Chapo: The Untold Story of the World's Most Infamous Drug Lord 

Malcolm Beith


Noah Hurowitz, El Chapo: The Untold Story of the World's Most Infamous Drug Lord. New York: Atria Books, 2021. [ISBN: 978-1982133757, Hardcover, 448 pages]

In spite of the mountain of reporting and court testimony now available on the drug war in Mexico, there’s usually one question that remains unanswered: where do drug trafficking up-and-comers like Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán work before they become kingpins? In a new book, El Chapo: The Untold Story of the World's Most Infamous Drug Lord, Noah Hurowitz does his best to find out. He manages to place Chapo in Zacatecas in his late 20s in the early to mid-80s; through an interview with one of Chapo’s relatives and a 1984 report from Enrique “Kiki” Camarena of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), he draws a connection between Chapo and Juan José Esparragoza-Moreno, aka “El Azul,” in Zacatecas. Like Chapo, El Azul would go on to become a mastermind of the Sinaloa cartel, and to this day, even though he’s been dead since 2014, little is known about him.

The book is a much-needed revisit of the Chapo story. Set to be published on 20 July, it stems from Hurowitz’s coverage of the drug lord’s 2018-2019 trial.[1] Hurowitz covered the proceedings for Rolling Stone, and the book is written in that magazine’s style—fast-paced, at times edgy and first person, light on analysis; but overall, it’s a good read. Hurowitz manages to capture the history of the drug war in Mexico well—it’s brief and snappy, sometimes opinionated, but it’s just right for a non-expert. Hurowitz makes clear to the reader that much of the myth surrounding Chapo is just that—myth—but also does a good job in talking to locals in the Sierra (especially in La Tuna, the hamlet where Chapo was born and where some of his relatives, including his mother, still live).

At one point in the tale—and it is a tale, of Hurowitz and his fixer driving through the winding mountain roads, of hearing a friend in the narco-world has been killed, of strolls through Culiacán with a narcocorrido singer—Hurowitz questions his own motives for writing the book, for continuing to venture into the hills of Sinaloa. “I knew that El Chapo’s story needed to be cast in a more nuanced light, offering a better understanding not just of his exploits but of the place he came from, the time in history he inhabited, the forces of prohibition and foreign policy that shaped the drug trade and helped make him wealthy and left tens of thousands of Mexicans dead and tens of thousands more disappeared.”(p.16) Perhaps he truly felt that, or perhaps he felt he needed to outdo previous journalists who had written about Chapo, yours truly included.

Perhaps he needed to find the truth about Chapo, which he claims in the book was a “lame” answer for his motives when he was asked by a relative of Chapo’s why he was poking around in the hills of Sinaloa. The truth, of course, is that there are many other Chapo books in existence, many of which cover the drug lord’s story well enough. Anabel Hernández’s Los Senores del Narco is the most comprehensive.[2] The Last Narco, which I wrote in 2010, now includes a new afterword summing up a few years of the hunt all the way through to the trial.[3] Alan Feuer, a reporter who covered the trial for the New York Times, released El Jefe: The Stalking of Chapo Guzmán—a fast-paced, detail-packed page-turner of a law enforcement yarn—in August 2020.[4] If Hurowitz is still in doubt over why he kept trekking up to the Sinaloa sierra, I’ll give him a reason: the more reporters, Mexican or foreign, can contribute to the drug war story, the better the DEA and their Mexican counterparts can fight it, and the better informed the public on both sides of the border will be of what is being done in their name and with their taxes. Hurowitz’s book—which at times wanders into debate over the validity and success of the drug war—will not end the drug war, but it will hopefully help lead to better on-the-ground decisions by the military, police, and prosecutors.

Hurowitz also adds to the Chapo story with his well-written recounting of the stories of the IT guy who flipped and became an informant for the FBI (Christian Rodríguez) and long-time associate Miguel Ángel Martínez Martínez . Martínez in particular is a great addition to the Chapo story, largely because he knew the drug lord so well and was so loyal. Any student of the drug war, be they an expert or a journalist, would do well to pore over the sections devoted to his testimony. Any criminology student should bookmark the sections on Christian Rodríguez, given how criminals almost always entrust technology to outsiders. And anyone who missed the trial will be interested to read the details on Chapo’s attempt to make a movie. One of the unanswered questions in the ongoing documentation of this notorious criminal—whether by journalists or law enforcement—is whether he was a showoff or a recluse. The trial and Hurowitz’s book reveal that indeed, Chapo had many sides to him. And much like his predecessors in the drug trade, he did on occasion let his ego—and his greed—get the best of him.


[1] Noah Hurowitz, “Inside the trial of El Chapo.” Rolling Stone. 4 November 2018,

[2] Available in English as Anabel Hernández, Ian Bruce and Lorna Scott Fox, Trans. Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers. New York: Verso. 2013,

[3] Malcolm Beith, The Last Narco: Inside the Hunt for El Chapo, the World's Most Wanted Drug Lord. New York: Grove Press. 2020,

[4] Alan Feuer, El Jefe: The Stalking of Chapo Guzmán. New York: Flatiron Books. 2020,

Categories: El Centro

About the Author(s)

Malcolm Beith is a freelance journalist based in Washington DC, focusing on conflict. He is the author of The Last Narco (Grove Press, 2010) and “Hasta El Ultimo Dia,” (Ediciones B, Mexico, 2012) He has a Master’s Degree in War Studies from the University of Glasgow, and maintains contact with official sources in Mexico, the U.S. and elsewhere. A former Newsweek general editor, he has written for Janes Intelligence Weekly, Foreign Policy Magazine, The Sunday Times, National Catholic Reporter and World Politics Review.



Sat, 04/08/2023 - 8:59am

Accounting Assignment Help is a service that assists students in completing their accounting assignments on time and with accuracy. This service is provided by accounting experts who have in-depth knowledge of accounting principles and practices. They help students with a variety of accounting topics, including financial accounting, managerial accounting, auditing, taxation, and more. Accounting assignment help services typically include homework help, exam preparation, essay writing, case studies, and other forms of academic assistance. With the help of these services, students can improve their understanding of accounting concepts and score better grades in their assignments. These services are available online and can be accessed from anywhere in the world.


Sat, 02/25/2023 - 11:22am

Stretching is an important activity that can improve flexibility, range of motion, and reduce the risk of injury. It can be done before or after exercise, or as a standalone activity to promote relaxation and relieve muscle tension. Hyperbolic Stretching


Tue, 02/21/2023 - 4:36am

Thanks for the nice information.

The standard treatment for erectile dysfunction is Generic Viagra or Sildenafil. (Sildenafil) is used to treat male sexual function problems


Mon, 12/12/2022 - 6:16am

Very informative story, thanks for share and bowling shoes should fit snugly but comfortably so that you can move around with ease. For extra performance on the lanes, look for best bowling shoes with interchangeable soles; this way you can customize your grip and style to suit whatever surface you're bowling on. Additionally, some brands offer models specifically designed for left-handed bowlers or those who require extra arch support. With so many great options out there, it's easy to find a pair of bowling shoes that will give you that extra edge over your competition.



Fri, 12/02/2022 - 2:13pm

It is often observed that student finds it difficult to complete their assignment in the way required and that too within the given deadline but what they are not able to think about is the need of Civil Law Assignment Help that can handle all of their tension by simply doing their assignment in the required way by putting the experts of the subject who has the qualification as well as the experience to do it, so that they can complete the assignment in the way required. So, it is always a better idea to opt for help rather than doing this personally. Read More:  Top 4 Reasons Why You Should Learn How to Write a Business Law


Mon, 11/28/2022 - 6:43am


Students face several challenges while writing business essays. From busy schedules to shortage of subject knowledge, 
college-goers find it difficult to complete their essays on time. Do you share a similar story? If yes, then you have 
landed in the right place. Archlite offers the best business essay writing service so that you can live a peaceful 
academic life and score excellent grades despite a variety of academic writing concerns.
The business essay writing 
team we have on board has been handpicked meticulously after a stringent recruitment process. All of them had to 
undergo writing test in order to prove their credentials, qualifications, and subject understanding. Only after
assessing the quality of their work, we hire them to provide business essay writing help to students living in the UK.

So far, we have assisted business students pursuing their degree courses in the major cities of the UK, such as 
Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Southampton, and Bristol. No matter which city you are 
living in, our business essay writers will assist you with all their might. Get in touch with us right away!

<a href="">Archlite Assignmen Help</a>


Thu, 11/10/2022 - 4:30am

If you need assistance with a research paper, please contact our research paper help experts at University life is full of assignments, each with a due date. It makes no difference what situation you're in. Overworked students have difficulty completing their homework correctly.



Thu, 09/01/2022 - 5:41am

On this website, you'll find a list of every Aosom discount code valid in August 2022. To provide you with the most current and valid Aosom coupons on the web, CouponSip update all of our discounts, promo codes, and special offers on a daily basis.



Thu, 07/14/2022 - 8:31am

Thank you so much for sharing this book with us, El Chapo the drugs suppler in United State, with political support, El Chapo supply drugs in different state with his team I like the way El Chapo us to improve their business. 


Thu, 02/10/2022 - 1:23am

Buy Ivermectin Australia is a powerful parasitic infection treatment that's been approved by the FDA. It's used to treat river blindness, onchocerciasis, and intestinal strongyloidiasis, and is currently being investigated as a potential treatment for Covid-19. However, while the results of this investigation are still pending, Ivermectin is known to be an incredibly effective medication against parasites. If you're suffering from a parasitic infection, speak to your doctor about whether Ivermectin might be the right treatment for you.

david soy

Mon, 01/17/2022 - 1:41am

Myself Daniel smith my profession is writing and searching new products, I completed my Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Florida in 2016. I join americans outfits as a junior writer but now leading a professional team of writers.


Thu, 12/09/2021 - 1:08am

MEDIAcomplex ist ein Full-Service-Dienstleister in den Bereichen Druck, Werbetechnik, Montage und Grafikdesign. Wir sind keine Agentur, wir kreieren und produzieren selbst. 

Copyshop München


Thu, 12/02/2021 - 2:31am

Crime thriller books like these are very much famous these days and due to the worlds most popular hunt after the drug lords hunt crime fiction thriller season readers and viewers are having more interest in this genre, Coursework writing service UK are also helping readers with such impressive topics which every reader must read once and can have tasted the perks of their immensely amazing service.

We can assist you with your online course issues at Do my exam. Our online course assistance is tailored to students who are having trouble with their online courses. Time-sensitive submissions, coursework, research, and other obligations can quickly drain a student's energy. It is critical to seek professional assistance in such a case. If you're wondering if someone can take my online course for me, let's talk about it. Yes, you can hire someone to help you with your online course. We provide just that at Online Courses Expert, a helpful hand with your online courses. So, why be concerned when we're here to help you pay someone to finish an online course for you?


Fri, 10/22/2021 - 4:52am

This is a amazing story and also intersting. People are now very familiar with the internet shopping and they order anything from the internet now, including medicine. It is possible to Order tapentadol online in the USA from the online shop. 


Wed, 09/22/2021 - 4:38am

We are committed to providing our clients with exceptional solutions while offering web design and development services, graphic design services, organic SEO services, social media services, digital marketing services, server management services and Graphic Design Company in USA.


Sat, 09/18/2021 - 6:58am

I've visited your social profile Malcolm Beith, you're such an astounding and proficient writer, your writing skills are so great, I'm also an expert research writer and leading a professional team of cv makers dubai which are helping students and job seekers by providing them professional cv writing guides and tips.


Tue, 08/17/2021 - 1:18am

The U.S. Conflict on drugs began underneath the administration of pres. Richard Nixon. Following his victory within the 1968 presidential election, Nixon declared that drug abuse was “public enemy number one.” efforts to forestall the drift of custom dissertation help unlawful tablets into us—which was the number one destination for maximum narcotics—became increasingly targeted on curtailing foreign manufacturing of marijuana and heroin. It becomes at some point of the seventies, however, that a growing u.S. Call for cocaine brought about the advent of the earliest drug cartels.

The US created the El Chapo's of the world. The Real Villain is the United States of America and its racist drug war, which dictates to the world what plant medicines it can use -- thus establishing Christian Science as a world religion and violating natural law.  The US is the colonialist bad guy who tells other countries to outlaw plant medicines that have been used responsibly by other cultures for millennia, so that the world can be safe for the two most deadly drugs of all: alcohol and tobacco.  And when drug warriors aren't busy invading other countries on the pretext of enforcing these colonialist drug laws, they're reading books like "El Chapo" to get a thrill out of all the guns and violence that the drug war itself brings into the world.  Someday the world will wake up and realize that the drug war itself is causing all the problems it purports to solve.  Then we will exchange the Drug Enforcement Agency for the Drug Education Agency and start learning how to use plant medicines safely rather than to demonize them like so many fanatical Christian Scientists.