By Ioan Grillo for Independent. A chain of crime wars is currently strangling Latin America and the Caribbean, drenching it in blood. And the first link in the chain is found in the US. Specifically, in a Barnes and Noble bookshop in a mall in El Paso, Texas.

I am sitting in the bookshop café, nursing my third cup of coffee and flicking through a pile of new books. As you do with new books, I am eyeing the photos, skimming the intros, just feeling and smelling the paper. I am also waiting for a drug trafficker who has spent four decades delivering the products of Mexican gangsters to all corners of the US.

The man I am waiting for is no criminal warlord controlling a fiefdom in Latin America; he’s a white New Yorker with a university education. That is why I want to start the story here. Latin American journalists complain that the US side of the equation is never examined. Who are the partners of the cartels wreaking havoc south of the Rio Grande, they ask? Where is the American narco? Here, I found one.

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