Read The Cartel Online

Authors: Don Winslow

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #United States, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Cozy, #Animals, #International Mystery & Crime, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Thrillers

The Cartel

Also by Don Winslow

The Kings of Cool

The Gentlemen’s Hour



The Dawn Patrol

The Winter of Frankie Machine

The Power of the Dog

California Fire and Life

The Death and Life of Bobby Z

While Drowning in the Desert

A Long Walk up the Water Slide

Way Down on the High Lonely

The Trail to Buddha’s Mirror

A Cool Breeze on the Underground


Copyright © 2015 by Samburu, Inc.

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York, and distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Ltd., Toronto.

Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Winslow, Don, [date]

The cartel / Don Winslow. — First edition.

pages ; cm

ISBN 978-1-101-87499-8 (hardcover)—ISBN 978-1-101-87500-1 (eBook)

I. Title.

PS3573.I5326C37 2015 813'.54—dc23 2015006233

eBook ISBN 9781101875001

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Cover image © fotokostic/iStock/Getty Images

Cover design by Oliver Munday

Map by Mapping Specialists




Also by Don Winslow
Title Page
Part One: To Arise From Sleep
Chapter 1: The Beekeepers
Chapter 2: Christmas in Prison
Chapter 3: The Hunting of Man
Part Two: The Gulf War
Chapter 1: The Devil Is Dead
Chapter 2: Los Negros
Chapter 3: Los Dos Laredos
Chapter 4: Jesus the Kid
Chapter 5: Narco Polo
Part Three: Good Night, Juárez
Chapter 1: Gente Nueva—the New People
Chapter 2: Journalists
Chapter 3: Jolly Coppers on Parade
Chapter 4: The Valley
Part Four: The Jack of Spades and the Z Company
Chapter 1: Women’s Business
Chapter 2: What Is It That You Want From Us?
Chapter 3: Each New Morn
Part Five: The Cleansing
Chapter 1: Jihad
Chapter 2: La Plaza Del Periodista
Chapter 3: The Cleansing
Epilogue: Ciudad Juárez
A Note About the Author

This book is dedicated to—

Alberto Torres Villegas, Roberto Javier Mora García, Evaristo Ortega Zárate, Francisco Javier Ortiz Franco, Francisco Arratia Saldierna, Leodegario Aguilera Lucas, Gregorio Rodríguez Hernández, Alfredo Jiménez Mota, Raúl Gibb Guerrero, Dolores Guadalupe García Escamilla, José Reyes Brambila, Hugo Barragán Ortiz, Julio César Pérez Martínez, José Valdés, Jaime Arturo Olvera Bravo, Ramiro Téllez Contreras, Rosendo Pardo Ozuna, Rafael Ortiz Martínez, Enrique Perea Quintanilla, Bradley Will, Misael Tamayo Hernández, José Manuel Nava Sánchez, José Antonio García Apac, Roberto Marcos García, Alfonso Sánchez Guzmán, Raúl Marcial Pérez, Gerardo Guevara Domínguez, Rodolfo Rincón Taracena, Amado Ramírez Dillanes, Saúl Noé Martínez Ortega, Gabriel González Rivera, Óscar Rivera Inzunza, Mateo Cortés Martínez, Agustín López Nolasco, Flor Vásquez López, Gastón Alonso Acosta Toscano, Gerardo Israel García Pimentel, Juan Pablo Solís, Claudia Rodríguez Llera, Francisco Ortiz Monroy, Bonifacio Cruz Santiago, Alfonso Cruz Cruz, Mauricio Estrada Zamora, José Luis Villanueva Berrones, Teresa Bautista Merino, Felicitas Martínez Sánchez, Candelario Pérez Pérez, Alejandro Zenón Fonseca Estrada, Francisco Javier Salas, David García Monroy, Miguel Angel Villagómez Valle, Armando Rodríguez Carreón, Raúl Martínez López, Jean Paul Ibarra Ramírez, Luis Daniel Méndez Hernández, Juan Carlos Hernández Mundo, Carlos Ortega Samper, Eliseo Barrón Hernández, Martín Javier Miranda Avilés, Ernesto Montañez Valdivia, Juan Daniel Martínez Gil, Jaime Omar Gándara San Martín, Norberto Miranda Madrid, Gerardo Esparza Mata, Fabián Ramírez López, José Bladimir Antuna García, María Esther Aguilar Cansimbe, José Emilio Galindo Robles, José Alberto Velázquez López, José Luis Romero, Valentín Valdés Espinosa, Jorge Ochoa Martínez, Miguel Ángel Domínguez Zamora, Pedro Argüello, David Silva, Jorge Rábago Valdez, Evaristo Pacheco Solís, Ramón Ángeles Zalpa, Enrique Villicaña Palomares, María Isabella Cordero, Gamaliel López Cananosa, Gerardo Paredes Pérez, Miguel Ángel Bueno Méndez, Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos, María Elvira Hernández Galeana, Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartas, Marco Aurelio Martínez Tijerina, Guillermo Alcaraz Trejo, Marcelo de Jesús Tenorio Ocampo, Luis Carlos Santiago Orozco, Selene Hernández León, Carlos Alberto Guajardo Romero, Rodolfo Ochoa Moreno, Luis Emmanuel Ruiz Carrillo, José Luis Cerda Meléndez, Juan Roberto Gómez Meléndez, Noel López Olguín, Marco Antonio López Ortíz, Pablo Ruelas Barraza, Miguel Ángel López Velasco, Misael López Solana, Ángel Castillo Corona, Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz, Ana María Marcela Yarce Viveros, Rocío González Trápaga, Manuel Gabriel Fonseca Hernández, María Elizabeth Macías Castro, Humberto Millán Salazar, Hugo César Muruato Flores, Raúl Régulo Quirino Garza, Héctor Javier Salinas Aguirre, Javier Moya Muñoz, Regina Martínez Pérez, Gabriel Huge Córdova, Guillermo Luna Varela, Esteban Rodríguez, Ana Irasema Becerra Jiménez, René Orta Salgado, Marco Antonio Ávila García, Zane Plemmons, Victor Manuel Báez Chino, Federico Manuel García Contreras, Miguel Morales Estrada, Mario Alberto Segura, Ernesto Araujo Cano, José Antonio Aguilar Mota, Arturo Barajas Lopez, Ramón Abel López Aguilar, Adela Jazmín Alcaraz López, Adrián Silva Moreno, David Araujo Arévalo—

Journalists murdered or “disappeared” in Mexico during the period covered in this novel. There were others.

And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
—Revelation 13:4

Detail left

Detail right


The Petén District, Guatemala

November 1, 2012

Keller thinks he hears a baby cry.

The sound is just audible over the muted rotors as the helicopter comes in low toward the jungle village.

The cry, if that is what he’s hearing, is shrill and sharp, a call of hunger, fear, or pain.

Perhaps loneliness—it is that loneliest time of the night, the predawn darkness when the worst dreams come, the sunrise seems far off, and the creatures that inhabit both the real world and the darker edges of the unconscious prowl with the impunity of predators who know that their prey is helpless and alone.

The cry lasts only moments. Maybe the mother came in, picked up the child, and cradled it in her arms. Maybe it was Keller’s imagination. But it’s a reminder that there are civilians down there—women and children mostly, a few old men and women—who will soon be in harm’s way.

The men in the chopper check the loads on their M-4 rifles to make sure the clips are solidly fixed and another one firmly duct-taped to the handle. Underneath the combat helmets and night-vision goggles and “bone-phones,” their faces are blackened. Below the ceramic-plate protective vests they wear camouflaged cargo pants with big pockets that hold tubes of energy gel, laminated satellite photos of the village, compression pads if things go bad and they have to stanch the bleeding.

An assassination mission on foreign soil—things could go bad.

The men are in another world, that pre-mission tunnel vision that natural fighters go into like a trance. The twenty-man team—split up in two MH-60 Black Hawks—are mostly former SEALs, Delta Force, Green Berets—the elite. They’ve done this before—in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia.

Technically, they’re all private contractors. But the shell company, a security firm out of Virginia, is a thin screen that the media will rip right through if this goes sick and wrong.

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