Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers

Player utilities

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: These days in Mexico teachers' protests are likely to get more headlines than the drug war. The government of President Peata Nieto has tried to downplay the violence, but everyone knows it's still there. Mexican investigative journalist Anabel HernAndez has been writing about the drug war for years. Her book, "Los Señores del Narco," was an instant bestseller in Mexico when it was published there in 2011. Now, it's been released in English under the title "Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers." HernAndez says some of the most groundbreaking revelations in her book are about Mexico's former top police official, Genaro García Luna, and his dealings with the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel.

Anabel Hernandez: On December of 2010 I received information that the chief of the police in Mexico, Genaro Garcia Luna, was trying to contract some policeman to kill me, simulating an accident or a kidnap or a robbery. Some few days after I received that information, I was in a party with my family in a very small coffee shop near to my house. So one minute after I left the coffee shop, two guys get inside the coffee shop with large guns and they pointed to each member of my family. There was my mother, my sisters, my nephews, and it was a horrible episode because it wasn't a robbery. These guys never took the money of the cashier. They take the purse of my sisters but they never tried to use the credit card and that kind of things, you know. That was the first sign of these people just telling me, we can do whatever we want to.

Werman: So if you had been there, do you think you'd be alive today?

Hernandez: Of course they know that I was there. They just want to show me, well, Anabel, if you don't care about your life, maybe you can care about the life of your family. They want to show that they can destroy all that is important for me.

Werman: Your investigative work, it seems like it's really angered people. Not just drug lords but a lot of people.

Hernandez: Yes. Yes, I have official documents, criminal files, of the general prosecutor that proves with many testimonies, that Genaro Garcia Luna and his guys were working for the Sinaloa cartel. Genaro Garcia Luna and the other police that worked for him were protecting different members of the Sinaloa cartel.

Werman: Just describe for us the kinds of people you've had to rely on to corroborate the information in your reporting and in this book.

Hernandez: I was able to talk with ex-police, policeman. My informant comes from inside the government. Also I talked with the members of all the cartels. I really have long interviews with the members of Sinaloa cartel, Gulf cartel, La Familia, El Cartel de Juarez, really all the cartels. One of my source was the General Mario Arturo Acosta Chaparro. He was killed the last year, in April of the last year, because he knows too much.

Werman: How were you able to gain access to these cartels and their very ruthless gangs?

Hernandez: These guys are not in the mountains or in caves. These guys are everywhere, in the best hotels in Mexico City, in the best restaurants. Really these people are not hiding. Of course they worry about their enemies, not about the government.

Werman: Anabel, many of your sources have been killed over the years. You've had headless animals dropped at your door, you've faced multiple death threats. I'm just wondering, do you consider yourself an activist more than a journalist, and if so, what is your mission?

Hernandez: I'm a journalist. I really believe that good journalists in the world can help to change the story of countries. And I really believe that be a journalist is an honor.

Werman: Given the risks you take for your profession, do you still have bodyguards these days?

Hernandez: Yeah, since December of 2010 until now I have to live with bodyguards. Right now the federal government is analyzing if they will keep the bodyguards with me or if they will take from me. I really hope that the government decide to keep them.

Werman: You have two young children. Do you ever want to just call it quits and lead a quiet life?

Hernandez: I really want to keep fighting. I really want to keep doing my job. I really want to keep denouncing the corruption. I really want to investigate how these drug cartels are taking the power in Mexico and how to stop them.

Werman: Ananbel HernAndez, the author of "Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers." Thanks very much for speaking with us.

Hernandez: Thanks to you.