Summary of Narconomics

How to Run a Drug Cartel

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Narconomics book summary
Surprising insights into the worldwide trade in illegal drugs.


8 Overall

8 Importance

8 Innovation

8 Style


British journalist Tom Wainwright regards the war on drugs as a failed, expensive experiment. In this intriguing business study, Wainwright acknowledges the drug-related violence in Mexico, corruption in the Caribbean and the overdoses in the United States. But he argues that society must find a better way to control narcotrafficking. Wainwright describes his travels to the cartel killing fields in Mexico, the coca farms of Bolivia and the legal grow houses of Denver. He sees Colorado’s legal cannabis industry as an alternative to misguided efforts to control drugs. Wainwright weighs all sides of the drug debate and concludes that the law-and-order approach isn’t working. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends his interesting overview to managers and policy makers seeking insight into the drug trade and the way innovation and profit thrive in the informal economy.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why common misconceptions about narcotics trafficking persist and how they shape the war on drugs,
  • Why cocaine’s street price reflects a 30,000% markup, and
  • How legalizing cannabis takes business away from drug cartels.


Brutal but Mundane
Illicit drugs are “the most exotic and brutal industry on earth.” But dig below the surface of this $300-billion-a-year industry and you’ll find that it’s remarkably like any sector of the formal economy. Entrepreneurs must manufacture, market and distribute their goods...
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About the Author

Tom Wainwright, formerly The Economist’s reporter in Mexico City, is the magazine’s Britain editor. He is a contributor to The Times, The Guardian and The Literary Review.

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    Jeff Ostrowski 5 months ago
    Wow: "Travelling from an Andean farm to a US street corner, cocaine goes through a 30,000% markup."

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