Summary of Zero Zero Zero

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  • Controversial
  • Comprehensive
  • Eye Opening


Crime chronicler Roberto Saviano, author of the acclaimed book, Gomorrah, about the Naples-based Camorra Mafia, reports on the ever-expanding global cocaine business. He explores the trade’s Colombian roots, the Mexican cartels’ violent takeover, and America’s comprehensive but ineffectual response. Saviano’s prose is powerful, but problematic. Due to his exposé of the Italian mob, he lives under security watch in Italy and apparently wasn’t free to travel for the research and the interviews this sort of overview demands. Much of Saviano’s coverage on the violent, escape-prone Mexican drug cartel leader “El Chapo” and on pioneering, grandiose Colombian cocaine magnate Pablo Escobar seems to have depended on compilations and may be dated; he turns up few new stories. More troubling, his literary techniques may be somewhat novelistic. Even so, getAbstract recommends his enlightening in-depth study, written with verve, to law enforcement officials, international investors, global managers, policy makers and sociologists seeking new analysis of this oft-studied but challenging and relevant subject.

About the Author

Italian journalist Roberto Saviano has lived in Italy under constant armed guard since the 2006 publication of his best-selling book Gomorrah about organized crime in Naples.



A Multibillion-Dollar Business

In Mexico alone, the cocaine trade is a business worth $25 billion to $50 billion a year. If you invested 1,000 euros in Apple stock at the start of 2012, you’d have 1,670 euros at the end of the year. Put the same into cocaine, and you’d have 182,000 euros. The economic miracle of cocaine relies on an unquenchable demand, which remains strong even though South American harvesters turn the coca plant into powder by using harsh chemicals: kerosene, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid and acetone.

On the open (retail) market, a kilo [2.2 lbs] of cocaine might fetch $1,500 in Colombia, $12,000 to $16,000 in Mexico, $27,000 in the United States and $77,000 in the United Kingdom. An entrepreneur who seizes control of this supply chain quickly becomes unimaginably wealthy as “narco-dollars” ease their way into the legitimate economy. Cocaine supports a thriving, violent trade that includes production in Colombia, transport via Mexico and consumption in the US and Europe. No one can accurately identify the size of the global cocaine trade. The market operates in the shadows. From cultivation in the Andes to retail sale in New York...

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