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San Diego County Author Examines Drug War Consequences

thecartel.jpg
San Diego County Author Examines Drug War Consequences
San Diego County Author Examines Drug War Consequences
San Diego Author Examines Drug War Consequences GUEST:Don Winslow, author, "The Cartel"

THIS IS KPBS "MIDDAY EDITION". I'M MAUREEN CAVANAUGH. DURING THE LAST FEW YEARS, MURDERERS AMONG DRUG CARTELS IN MEXICO HAVE DECREASED. THE MASS ATTACKS AT NIGHTCLUBS IN JUAREZ, BODIES HANGING FROM BRIDGES IN BAJA, GUN BATTLES IN THE STREETS OF TIJUANA, ALL HAVE DROPPED A NUMBER INTO AN EXTENT, DROPPED OFF THE RADAR OF AMERICAN NEWS. BUT THE VIOLENCE AND ITS LEGACY HAVE NOT GONE AWAY. A NEW NOVEL STANDS AS WITNESS TO THE WORST PART OF THE DRUG WARS, DON WINSLOW'S NOVEL IS CALLED, "THE CARTEL". IT'S A SEQUEL TO HIS BESTSELLER, "THE POWER OF THE DOG". BOTH BOOKS ARE CRIME THRILLERS BUT IN TERMS OF RESEARCH AND SCOPE, THEY QUALIFY AS A HISTORY OF THE VIOLENCE, CORRUPTION, HYPOCRISY AND SOME WOULD SAY ULTIMATE FUTILITY OF AMERICA'S WAR AGAINST DRUGS. DON WINSLOW LIVES NEAR JULIEN AND IS THE AUTHOR OF 19 BOOKS. ONCE AGAIN, HIS LATEST IS A NOVEL CALLED "THE CARTEL". DON, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM. THANKS FOR HAVING ME. AFTER YOU WROTE "THE POWER OF THE DOG" ABOUT THE HISTORY OF DRUG WARS IN MEXICO YOU SAID YOU ARE FINISHED WITH THE SUBJECT. WHAT BROUGHT YOU BACK TO WRITE "THE CARTEL"? YEAH. YOU KNOW, AFTER I FINISHED "DOG", I THOUGHT I HAD WRITTEN ABOUT THE WORST OF THE WORST. YOU KNOW, I WAS SADLY AND TRAGICALLY WRONG. SO AS I WAS SITTING, YOU KNOW, NOT SO FAR FROM THE BORDER WATCHING EVENTS UNFOLD IN MEXICO, I STARTED FOLLOWING THEM AGAIN, DESPITE MYSELF. AND ALL THE WHILE BY THE WAY DENYING THAT I WAS GOING TO WRITE THIS BOOK. YOU KNOW, TO MY AGENT, MY WIFE, TO EVERYBODY. BUT, I JUST KEPT ASKING MYSELF, WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? WHY HAS THIS CHANGED? AND AS I STARTED TO READ AND TALK TO PEOPLE AND FIND OUT, I JUST, YOU KNOW, I FOUND SOME EXPLANATIONS. I FOUND SOME ANSWERS BEHIND THE HEADLINES. AND I ALSO FOUND SOME HUMAN STORIES THAT JUST HAD TO BE TOLD. NOW, I UNDERSTAND THAT WHILE YOU WERE SORT OF IN DENIAL ABOUT WRITING A SECOND BOOK, YOU STARTED TO WRITE A CHRONOLOGY OF THE EVENTS THAT YOU ARE HEARING ABOUT IN MEXICO. IS THAT RIGHT? CORRECT. YOU KNOW, I'M A HISTORIAN BY TRAINING AND SO THAT WAS, FOR ME, THE NATURAL THING TO DO. YOU KNOW, I ALWAYS BELIEVE THAT C FOLLOWS B AND B FOLLOWS A, AND IF YOU LOOK LONG ENOUGH FOR A REASON OR CAUSE FOR SOMETHING YOU WILL FIND IT ON A TIMELINE. SO I ENDED UP DOING A 150 SEVEN-PAGE CHRONOLOGY AND OUT OF THAT I BEGAN TO SEE PATTERNS AND PEOPLE AND PERSONALITIES AND CAUSES FOR THESE EVENTS THAT WERE OTHERWISE JUST HEADLINES. NOW, YOU WROTE "THE POWER OF THE DOG" A DECADE AGO SO WITH ALL THIS RESEARCH YOU DID, WHAT DID YOU FIND HAS CHANGED IN THE WORLD OF CARTELS SINCE THEN? WELL, A LOT. I MEAN, PRIMARILY IT'S FELT ULTRA MILITARIZATION OF THE DRUG WARS BOTH BY THE CARTELS AND BY THE MEXICAN AND ALSO AMERICAN GOVERNMENTS. SO BACK IN THE LATE 90s, CARTELS STARTED TO RECRUIT SPECIAL FORCES SOLDIERS WHO WERE, IN FACT, TRAINED IN THE UNITED STATES TO BE ANTI-DRUG WARRIORS. AND THE CARTELS RECRUITED THEM, OR ONE CARTEL DID, AS BODYGUARDS. THAT SET OFF, IF YOU WILL, KIND OF AN ARMS RACE. AND THEN EVERY CARTEL FIGURE THAT THEY HAD TO HAVE THEIR OWN ARMIES. HIGHLY TRAINED, HIGHLY ARMED. AND SO WHEN CONFLICT BROKE OUT BETWEEN THE CARTELS, THE LEVEL OF VIOLENCE WAS SO MUCH MORE RAPID THAN IT HAD BEEN IN THE PREVIOUS PERIOD. AND THEN, WHEN THE GOVERNMENT DECIDED IT HAD TO DO SOMETHING, IT REALIZED THAT IT'S POLICE WERE OUTGUNNED AND OFTEN FRANKLY THE EMPLOYEE OF CARTELS. SO THEY SENT IN NOT POLICE BUT THE ARMY AND THEN YOU HAD A WAR. NOW IN YOUR NOVEL, "THE CARTEL", WE MEET THE SAME RIVAL PROTAGONISTS WHO BATTLED EACH OTHER IN THE -- "THE POWER OF THE DOG". CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THEM? SURE. THAT'S THE SPINE OF BOTH STORIES. IF YOU PUT BOTH BOOKS TOGETHER IT'S THE STORY OF THE WAR ON DRUGS AS SEEN THROUGH THE EYES OF THESE TWO ANTAGONISTS. ART KELLER IS A DEA AGENT WHO GOES DOWN TO MEXICO IN THE 70s. AS A BRIGHT EYED, IDEALISTIC MAN, THINKING THAT HE CAN SOLVE THE DRUG PROBLEM AT HOME. BY CUTTING OFF DRUGS FROM MEXICO. HE QUICKLY BECOMES CO-OPTED AND BETRAYED BY HIS THEN FRIEND, DON BERRERA, WHO BECOMES ONE OF THE MAJOR DRUG LORDS IN MEXICO AND KILLS ART KELLER'S PARTNER IN AN INCIDENT THAT IS UNFORTUNATELY BASED ON A TRUE STORY. AND SO THEY BECOME ABSOLUTE BLOOD ENEMIES. AND DISPUTE REALLY IS KIND OF THE BEACON OF BOTH BOOKS. YOU KNOW, BOTH BOOKS ARE SORT OF WIDE AND BROUGHT IN THEIR SUBJECTS BUT THIS IS THE MAIN STORY ABOUT THESE TWO MEN, WHAT THEY DO IN THE WAR ON DRUGS AND WHAT THE WAR ON DRUGS DOES TO THEM. NOW, BERRERA, YOUR CHARACTER, BERRERA, STARTS OUT IN JAIL IN SAN DIEGO AFTER BEING CAPTURED. HE HOLDS CORE PLOT BEHIND BARS AND I'M WONDERING, DID YOU BASE THIS ON THE CAPTURE OF SOME OF THE REAL-LIFE DRUG KINGPINS LIKE MAYBE THE ARIANA FALIX BROTHERS? HE DOESN'T HOLD IT IN THE FEDERAL LOCKUP IN SAN DIEGO BUT WHEN HE GETS BACK TO MEXICO HAVING ONE OF THESE EXCHANGES THAT WE SOMETIMES DO, IN LA PUENTE PRISON OUTSIDE A PORTAL HARDER, HE BASICALLY -- GUADALAJARA, HE BASICALLY RUNS THE PRISON, HOLDS A CHRISTMAS PARTY, HAS GUESTS IN AND OUT, HAS A MOVIE NIGHT AND HIS OWN LITTLE ARMY OF BODYGUARDS AND YEAH, THAT IS VERY MUCH BASED ON REALITY AND REAL DRUGLORDS WHO WERE HELD IN MEXICO. THAT SITUATION DOES NOT SO MUCH EXIST FOR THE MEXICAN DRUG LORDS WHO ARE PUT INTO, YOU KNOW, MAXIMUM-SECURITY PRISONS IN THE UNITED STATES. HOW DID YOU DO RESEARCH FOR A NOVEL AS DETAILED AS THIS ONE? WHILE YOU KNOW, I SPENT NOW I GUESS 15 YEARS OF MY LIFE ON THIS TOPIC. SO YOU KNOW, I'M NOT GOING TO GO INTO ANY NEW DETAIL ABOUT WHERE I WENT OR WHO I TALKED TO BUT I TALKED TO ALL KINDS OF FOLKS OVER THE COURSE OF THESE YEARS. YOU KNOW, FROM DEA PEOPLE TO INTELLIGENCE PEOPLE TO DRUG TRAFFICKERS TO DRUG ADDICTS, FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE LOST LOVED ONES. AND THEN A LOT OF DOCUMENTARY RESEARCH AS WELL, A LOT OF COURT RECORDS, JOURNALISM, YOU KNOW, WHENEVER I COULD GET. WERE YOU EVER IN DANGER RESEARCHING THE BOOK? I DON'T THINK SO. I DON'T WANT TO IN ANY WAY COMPARE MYSELF WITH MEXICAN JOURNALISTS TO LIVE THROUGH THIS ANYWAY TRAGICALLY DON'T LIVE THROUGH THIS EVERY DAY. SO MANY OF THEM WERE KILLED IN COVERING THIS STORY. AND SO, IN NO WAY DO I WANT TO, YOU KNOW, COMPARE MYSELF WITH THEM. YOU MAKE A GOOD POINT BECAUSE YOU HAVE DEDICATED THIS BOOK TO MORE THAN 130 JOURNALISTS WHO WERE EITHER MURDERED OR DISAPPEARED IN MEXICO. DURING THE PERIOD COVERED IN "THE CARTEL". AND YOU NAME THEM. YES, MA'AM. WHY WAS THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU? WELL, I'M NOT A JOURNALIST, I'M A NOVELIST. THESE BOOKS ARE DEFINITELY CRIME NOVELS, THRILLERS. BUT YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT WRITERS HAVE, IF YOU WILL, A BROTHERHOOD AND SISTERHOOD. IF I'M NOT A BROTHER TO THOSE PEOPLE I'M THEIR COUSIN, MAYBE. AND SO, I FELT IT IS IMPORTANT AS ONE WRITER TO ANOTHER TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE SACRIFICE THAT WAS MADE AND TO ACKNOWLEDGE THOSE PEOPLE FOR WHAT THEY DID AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM. WOULD YOU MAY BE SURE ONE OF THEIR STORIES WITH US? WHY WERE THEY KILLED AND HOW? WELL, THERE ARE SO MANY OF THOSE STORIES, BUT YOU KNOW, THE THING OF IT IS IS THAT THE CARTELS ENTERED AN ERA OF SOPHISTICATION WHERE THEY REALIZED THAT IT WAS NOT ENOUGH TO WIN THE SHOOTING WAR, THEY HAD TO WIN THE MEDIA WAR AS WELL. THAT THEY FELT THAT THEY HAD TO CONTROL NOT ONLY THE ACTION, BUT THE NARRATIVE. OF WHAT WAS HAPPENING, OR SILENCE IT. SO, YOU HAVE JOURNALISTS WHO WERE OUT COVERING MURDERERS OR COVERING GRAFT OR COVERING WHATEVER. AND THE CARTELS WOULD TELL THEM, STOP. AND, SOME OF THESE MEN AND WOMEN DID NOT STOP. AND SUFFERED HORRIFIC FATES. ONE MAN WHO WAS GUNNED DOWN IN THE DRIVEWAY OF HIS HOUSE, YOU KNOW, TAKING HIS LITTLE BOY TO SCHOOL, HE WAS KILLED, THE LITTLE BOY WAS WOUNDED. OTHERS WHO WERE -- WELL, YOU HAVE A RADIO SHOW, I DON'T WANT TO GO INTO GRAPHIC DETAIL. BUT, THEY MET SOME VERY HORRIFIC THINGS. OTHER TIMES, THE CARTELS WOULD COME TO THEM WITH AN ENVELOPE, EVERY WEEK, EITHER ON FRIDAY OR MONDAY, THAT WAS OFTEN MULTIPLES OF THEIR WEEKLY SALARIES. AND, THESE REPORTERS DO NOT HAVE THE CHOICE OF TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT, IT WAS TAKEN OR WE KILL YOU OR WE KILL YOUR FAMILIES. AND THEN THEY WERE TOLD WHAT TO WRITE AND WHAT NOT TO WRITE. AND SOME OF THEM DID AND SOME OF THEM DIDN'T, AND THE ONES WHO DIDN'T AGAIN PAID A HORRIBLE PRICE FOR IT. TELEVISION AND RADIO STATIONS WERE ATTACKED WITH MACHINE GUNS AND ROCKET LAUNCHERS. SO, THIS IS A MAJOR PART OF THE STORY, I THINK. I'M SPEAKING WITH DON WINSLOW ABOUT HIS LATEST NOVEL CALLED "THE CARTEL". AND, AS YOU SORT OF REFERENCED IN YOUR LAST ANSWER, THERE ARE SCENES OF GRAPHIC VIOLENCE IN "THE CARTEL". DEPICTING DECAPITATIONS AND MUTILATIONS. I'M WONDERING, DO YOU THINK THAT THE CARTELS USE THESE MEASURES FOR THE SAME REASON AS LET'S SAY TERROR GROUPS LIKE ISIS? ABSOLUTELY. IN FACT I'D GO AS FAR AS SAYING ISIS TOOK THIS PAGE FROM THE CARTEL'S PLAYBOOK. YEARS BEFORE I WAS RELEASING THE SORT OF, YOU KNOW, CLIPS OF THEIR HORRORS, THE CARTELS WERE DOING THE SAME THING AND PUTTING THEM OUT ON SOCIAL MEDIA AS, YOU KNOW, TOOLS OF INTIMIDATION AND YES, TERRORISM. BUT ALSO, SADLY, RECRUITMENT. SO IN OTHER WORDS, RECRUITING PEOPLE FROM INSIDE MEXICO. YES. WELL, THEY WOULD PUT ON RADIO ADS. THEY WOULD TAKE OUT ADS IN NEWSPAPERS, THEY WOULD PUT UP BANNERS SAYING COME ON A GREAT SALARY. AND YOU KNOW, WE ARE THE GULF, WE ARE THE ZETAS, AND THESE THINGS GO OUT ALSO ON SOCIAL MEDIA. AND I THINK PEOPLE EITHER DON'T HAVE A CHOICE AND HAVE TO PICK SOMEONE POWERFUL TO ALIGN THEMSELVES WITH, OR THERE ARE, OF COURSE, PSYCHOPATHS AND SOCIOPATHS TO WHOM THIS IS JUST SIMPLY ATTRACTIVE. DON, PART OF THE REASON YOU SAID HE WANTED TO WRITE "THE CARTEL" WAS FOR PEOPLE IN THE U.S. TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS GOING ON IN MEXICO WITH THE DRUG WARS. IS THERE A LOT OF MISINFORMATION OUT THERE? I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF MISUNDERSTANDING. YOU KNOW, LISTEN, AGAIN, AT THE END OF THE DAY I'M A NOVELIST. I TRIED TO WRITE A GOOD STORY WITH GREAT CHARACTERS. IT IS GOING TO INTEREST PEOPLE. BUT, CERTAINLY I HOPE THAT PEOPLE TAKE THIS BOOK AND LEARN SOMETHING FROM IT. YOU KNOW, WE ALWAYS TALK ABOUT THE MEXICAN DRUG PROBLEM. OF COURSE, IT'S NOT THE MEXICAN DRUG PROBLEM, IT'S THE AMERICAN DRUG PROBLEM. WE ARE THE MARKET, WE ARE THE BUYER, WE'VE EARNED THE CARTELS. BOTH BY OUR BUYING OF THE DRUGS, AT THE SAME TIME, WE PROHIBIT THE DRUGS. AND THAT'S WHAT MAKES THE CARTELS POWERFUL. BECAUSE IF ONLY CRIMINALS CAN SELL SOMETHING, THERE IS NO RECOURSE TO LAW, THERE'S ONLY RECOURSE TO VIOLENCE IN THE MOST VIOLENT WILL RISE TO THE TOP. SO A LOT OF I THINK WHAT WE DON'T UNDERSTAND, YOU KNOW, IS OUR OWN ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITY IN THIS. NOW THERE IS A BIG PUSH IN SEVERAL STATES INCLUDING COMING UP HERE IN CALIFORNIA TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA. I'M WONDERING WHAT KIND OF EFFECT YOU THINK A CHANGE IN U.S. DRUG POLICY LIKE THAT MIGHT HAVE. WELL, I THINK IT'S A POSITIVE STEP BUT ONLY A STEP. MARIJUANA IS STILL THE CARTELS LARGEST PRODUCT IN LEGALIZING IT IN THE SORT OF MIDDLE TO LONG-TERM WILL TAKE SOME OF THE WEALTH AND POWER FROM THE CARTELS. HOWEVER, THEY ARE STILL LEFT WITH COCAINE, HEROIN AND MYTH. AND, BILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS PER YEAR. SO UNTIL WE LOOK AT SORT OF THE TOTAL NEW DRUG POLICY, IT'S NOT GOING TO HELP THAT MUCH. AND ALSO, THE POLITICAL WINDS SEEM TO BE CHANGING IN WASHINGTON, MORE POLITICIANS, WE ARE HEARING THEM CONCEDING THAT THE WAR ON DRUGS ISN'T WORKING, DO YOU THINK THAT THEY WILL CHANGE OUR POLICY SOON THAT MAY IMPACT THE KIND OF VIOLENCE WE'VE SEEN IN RECENT YEARS? NOT SOON. BUT I THINK THERE IS A MOVEMENT IN THAT DIRECTION. YOU KNOW, WHEN I WROTE "DOG", THAT WAS A POLITICAL FORTH REAL. ANYBODY WHO BROUGHT IT UP OR TOUCHED IT, THEIR CAREER WAS OVER THE NEXT DAY. THE MAYOR OF BALTIMORE, GOVERNOR OF NEW MEXICO. NOW IT IS AT LEAST POSSIBLE TO HAVE THE CONVERSATION. AND, THAT IS DEFINITELY A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. BUT, THERE IS STILL ENORMOUS RESISTANCE TO REVISITING THIS THING AND HORRIFIC SOCIAL COST TO AMERICA, BY THE WAY, WITH THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WE IMPRISON AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS WE SPEND ON IT. DON, WHAT KIND OF SATISFACTION DO YOU GET? THIS IS A LARGE NOVEL, IT'S A SEQUEL TO ANOTHER MEATY NOVEL, OVER 500 PAGES, WHAT KIND OF SATISFACTION DO YOU GET FROM CREATING A WORLD LIKE THIS THAT HAS BEEN BASED SO HEAVILY ON REALLY SUCH A TRAGIC STORY IN MEXICO AND THE U.S.? YEAH. I WILL TELL YOU THERE'S A REAL SATISFACTION I THINK TO BRINGING HUMAN STORIES TO LIFE. YOU KNOW, TO TAKE REAL OFFENSE AND FICTIONALIZE THEM, DEFINITELY, AGAIN, IT'S A NOVEL, BUT THERE IS A SATISFACTION IN TRYING TO MAKE THE EXPERIENCE REAL TO THE READER. YOU KNOW, THE STORY OF WOMEN, FOR INSTANCE, IN THIS BOOK, AGAIN, BASED ON REAL EVENTS, TO ME, IS ABSOLUTELY INSPIRING. YOU HAD WOMEN WHO VOLUNTEER, 19-YEAR-OLD WOMEN, VOLUNTEERS TO BECOME THE POLICE CHIEF OF HER LITTLE TOWN ON THE BORDER, KNOWING THAT HER FOR PREDECESSORS HAD BEEN KILLED FOR TAKING THE JOB. AND SHE STEPPED UP AND SAID, NO, THAT'S ME. I THOUGHT THERE WAS ONE OF THESE STORIES. THERE ARE DOZENS OF THEM. A WOMAN WHO WAS MAYOR OF A TOWN WHO WAS SHOT FOUR TIMES IN SEPARATE ATTACKS. WENT ON TELEVISION, SHOWED HER WOUNDS TO THE WORLD AND SAID, YOU WON'T STOP ME. SOCIAL ACTIVISTS, WOMEN WHO TOOK ON, AT THE SAME TIME, THE CARTELS, THE ARMY, THE POLICE. AND STOOD UP FOR HUMAN RIGHTS. THESE, TO ME, WERE VERY INSPIRING STORIES. SO, IT'S NOT ALL GRIM AND IT'S NOT ALL CORRUPTION. AND, I THINK ALSO, TRYING TO BRING SOME OF THE SWEETNESS AND THE DEPTH OF MEXICAN CULTURE TO THE READER WHERE I COULD COME IN TO CREATE SOME BALANCE, WAS ENORMOUSLY SATISFYING. MOST OF ALL, THOUGH, I JUST WANTED TO TELL THE TRUTH. YOU KNOW? DON WINSLOW WILL BE SPEAKING ABOUT HIS NOVEL, "THE CARTEL", AT WARWICK'S TONIGHT AT 7:30 AND AT THE MYSTERIOUS GALEXY BOOKSTORE ON SUNDAY AT 2:00. IT HAS BEEN A PLEASURE, THANK YOU SO MUCH. MY PLEASURE, THANK YOU SO MUCH. STILL AHEAD, A PERFORMANCE BY SAN DIEGO'S SURE FIRE SOUL ENSEMBLE. THAT IS KPBS "MIDDAY EDITION" CONTINUES. FIRST, WORLD AND NATIONAL HEADLINES TO KEEP YOU UP-TO-DATE THIS HOUR. THE SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE HAS APPROVED A MEASURE THAT ALLOWS MEMBERS TO CONSIDER REMOVING THE CONFEDERATE FLAG FROM THE STATEHOUSE GROUNDS. THE LAWMAKERS ARE IN A SPECIAL SESSION TODAY TO PASS THE STATE BUDGET BUT THEY TOOK THE STEP TO ALLOW THE PLANT DEBATE AFTER NINE BLACK CHURCH MEMBERS WERE KILLED LAST WEEK IN CHARLESTON. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA'S TRADE AGENDA HAS SURVIVED A CRUCIAL SENATE VOTE AND SEEMS WELL-POSITIONED TO BECOME LAW. THE SENATE VOTED 60-37 EARLIER TODAY TO BEGIN FULL-BLOWN DEBATE ON THE PRESIDENT'S REQUEST FOR FAST-TRACK NEGOTIATING AUTHORITY. THAT WAS IN FACT NUMBER NEEDED TO AVOID A FILIBUSTER. AND, THE DEATH TOLL FROM A HEAT WAVE THAT HAS HIT THE SOUTHERN PAKISTAN HAS RISEN TO MORE THAN 600. THE SENIOR PAKISTANI HEALTH OFFICIALS SAY THE NUMBER OF FATALITIES IS EXPECTED TO CLIMB. LISTEN FOR THE LATEST NEWS THROUGH THE DAY RIGHT HERE ON KPBS. IT'S 12:39 AND YOU'RE LISTENING TO KPBS "MIDDAY EDITION".

Murders involving drug cartels in Mexico have decreased during the past few years, but the violence has not gone away.

A new novel by San Diego County author Don Winslow stands as witness to the worst part of the drug wars.

"The Cartel" is a sequel to Winslow's bestseller, "The Power of the Dog." Both books are crime thrillers, but in terms of research and scope they qualify as a quasi-history of the drug war.

"Most, not all, of the major incidents in the novel are based on real events," said Winslow, who lives near Julian.

But Winslow didn’t just tell the stories of the drug cartels — he dedicated his books to the more than 130 journalists who were killed or disappeared because of the violence in Mexico. He said the cartels not only control the drugs but want to control the narrative.

“So you had journalists out covering murders and the cartels would tell them to stop,” Winslow told KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday. “And some of these men and women didn’t stop, and they suffered horrific fates.”

Because of that, Winslow said he wanted to acknowledge their sacrifice.

“I’m not a journalist, I’m a novelist, and these books are definitely crime thrillers,” Winslow said. “But writers have a brotherhood and sisterhood. I felt it was important, as one writer to another, to acknowledge the sacrifices they made.”

Winslow is speaking at Warwick's at 7812 Girard Ave. on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore at 5943 Balboa Ave on Sunday at 2 p.m.