The Cartel: A novel
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
From the internationally best-selling author of the acclaimed novel The Power of the Dog comes The Cartel, a gripping, true-to-life, ripped-from-the-headlines epic story of power, corruption, revenge, and justice spanning the past decade of the Mexican-American drug wars.
It’s 2004. DEA agent Art Keller has been fighting the war on drugs for thirty years in a blood feud against Adán Barrera, the head of El Federación, the world’s most powerful cartel, and the man who brutally murdered Keller’s partner. Finally putting Barrera away cost Keller dearly—the woman he loves, the beliefs he cherishes, the life he wants to lead.
Then Barrera gets out, determined to rebuild the empire that Keller shattered. Unwilling to live in a world with Barrera in it, Keller goes on a ten-year odyssey to take him down. His obsession with justice—or is it revenge?—becomes a ruthless struggle that stretches from the cities, mountains, and deserts of Mexico to Washington’s corridors of power to the streets of Berlin and Barcelona.
Keller fights his personal battle against the devastated backdrop of Mexico’s drug war, a conflict of unprecedented scale and viciousness, as cartels vie for power and he comes to the final reckoning with Barrera—and himself—that he always knew must happen.
The Cartel is a story of revenge, honor, and sacrifice, as one man tries to face down the devil without losing his soul. It is the story of the war on drugs and the men—and women—who wage it.
hit of yerba from time to time, but even that’s getting rare. “Anyway, walk out back with me,” Ramón says. Then he says to the bartender, “Narizazo.” Time to snort up. Pablo follows him out the back door into the alley. Ramón takes a vial of coke out of his jeans pocket, scoops a little onto his fingernail, and takes a hit. “They say it’s bad when you start using your own product. It’s just I’m so fucking tired these days, I need a little pick-me-up in the afternoon. So what were you asking
were becoming a liability, a risk. All of which is true, Keller thinks, but he can see that he’s lying, that Vera told him about Salvador Barrera’s double-murder beef, and that Palacios doesn’t want Aguilar to know that he knows about the Tapia-for-Sal deal. It’s very dangerous knowledge, Keller agrees. “But you did fuck it up,” he prompts. Palacios holds his hands up. “Not me—Galvén got stupid and blew Alberto away, and we just couldn’t lay our hands on Diego.” “Couldn’t or wouldn’t?”
Valle Hermoso, in Saltillo out in Coahuila. He’s said to meet with Forty once a month at ranches in Río Bravo, Sabinas, or Hidalgo. Or they go hunting zebras, gazelles, and other “exotics” at private game ranches in Coahuila or San Luis Potosí. Or they watch their horses race as they sit in armored cars near the track, surrounded by bodyguards. In all the Zeta territories, they hire ventanas—lookouts. Ambulantes, store clerks, neighborhood kids, who watch for the police or the marines, and use
his hotel near the Brandenburg Gate. The German counterpart in BND tails them to the Kreuzberg neighborhood, down the Oranienstrasse, where they go into a nightclub and meet three men that the BND guy identifies as Turkish immigrants. From Berlin, Rolando trains to the ancient Baltic port city of Rostock, where ’Ndrangheta has a strong presence. He goes to a yacht moored at the marina, stays for two hours, and then goes to his hotel on Kröpeliner Strasse. BND personnel track the yacht owners to
her from falling into the abyss. That’s all that Ana seems to want from the relationship. She doesn’t want to “improve” him, doesn’t ask “where this is all going.” She seems satisfied with the companionship at night, the friendship, the love, if that’s what you can call it. For Pablo, sex is more of a delay of sleep. He used to love to sleep, relish sleep, bury himself in the blankets and roll in sleep. Now he hates and fears it. Because with sleep comes dreams. Not a good thing for a man