"Zero Zero Zero: look at cocaine and all you see is powder. Look through cocaine and you see the world" by Roberto Saviano
Criminal organisations are much bigger than we can ever possibly thought. They are the firm structure in a broken society, one of the main reasons a lot of African countries have not collapsed yet. Their laundered money comprised of nearly 1/3 of liquidity during the 2008 financial crisis, and practically became the safety net that kept the global economy from collapsing.
Moreover, criminal organisations are also the direct reasons for some of the political changes occurring in the world, such as the killings of many politicians in Mexico, the forced regime changes in Colombia, or the imprisonment of Ukraine's Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko after a failed gas deal with Russia (which involved the Russian mafijas).
And in the veins of the global criminal network lies 1 commodity that is vital for the movement of the underground economy: cocaine.
In 2012 Apple became the most valuable company (by market capitalisation) ever listed on the New York Stock Exchange, thanks to the launch of iPhone 5 and iPad mini. Its stock price jump by 67% in just one year, meaning that if you had invested $1000 in the beginning of 2012, by the end of the year you would have a whopping $1670. However, by comparison, if you had invested $1000 in cocaine in the beginning of 2012, after a year you would get a phenomenal return of $182,000. And this is why cocaine play a central role in the criminal underworld.
This book is truly a masterpiece, an essential read if you want to know the complete picture of the world. It grasps and analyses the inner structure of multiple criminal organisations around the world - from the Colombian cartels, the Mexican cartels, the Italian mafias (including the largest criminal organisation 'nrangdheta), to the Russian mafijas and their eastern European counterparts - and their dealings with cocaine.
It gives a very detailed accounts on the sophisticated trade routes and the importance of the skills of the logistics guys. And it also tell the stories on the creative ways smugglers carry their stash, including swallowing them with a condom, or hide their cocaine in paintings, statues, fake pineapple, can of squid, even children's books and artificial breasts.
Furthermore, the author went to some great length to research everything there is about the industry, including visiting the distributors of cocaine and coming down to the streets to meet several pushers, and he vividly describes the gruesome details on the nasty effects of cocaine, which is very sobering.
He also reveals seemingly all the names of the biggest fishes in the industry, all down to the smallest details like how they torture their enemies and back stab each others, which has angered the criminal underworld and endangering him up to a point that he ended up needing protection 24/7.
With that in mind, this is quite possibly the most violent book I've ever read, a horrific reality on the real state of the world. A Mexican drug queen Sandra Ávila Beltrán repeatedly said "the world is disgusting", and after reading this book from cover to cover I eventually get what she means, her world certainly looks very dark indeed.
For more reviews, please visit my book review page on Amazon