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Mexico-Based Journalist Profiles Criminal Organizations and Their Leaders

Giovana Sanchez - Giovana Sanchez
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April 14, 2016

Ioan Grillo, journalist and author of Gangster Warlords (Knight Center)

While covering organized crime in Latin America, Mexico-based British journalist Ioan Grillo identified parallels in the mode of operation of the largest criminal organizations in the region – whether in Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City or Kingston, Jamaica.

“They are complex, postmodern networks that mix gangs, mafias, death squads, religious cults and urban guerrillas,” Grillo wrote in his new book “Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields and the New Politics of Latin America,” recently released in the United States.

To try to understand these "hybrid" organizations, Grillo infiltrated four crime families: Comando Vermelho in Brazil, Shower Posse in Jamaica, Mara Salvatrucha in Central America and the Knights Templar in Mexico.

The result is a book that gives a regional understanding of the matter that affects many Latin American countries.

"You have people who are very specialized in Mexico or in Rio de Janeiro or Jamaica.” Grillo said in an interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. “And you see all these common links between organized crime [in these regions]."

This is Grillo's second book – the first, "El Narco," addressed the rise of Mexican cartels in the 2000s.

Read the rest at Knight Center

Related: U.S. Puts Sanctions on Alleged Mexican Heroin Trafficking Group, Leaders (

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