The story of two American teens recruited as killers for a Mexican cartel, and their pursuit by a Mexican-American detective. At first glance, Gabriel Cardona is the poster boy American teenager: great athlete, bright, handsome, and charismatic. But the streets of his border town of Laredo, Texas, are poor and dangerous, and it isn’t long before Gabriel abandons his promising future for the allure of the Zetas, a drug cartel with roots in the Mexican military. His younger friend Bart, as well as others from Gabriel’s childhood, join him in working for the Zetas, boosting cars and smuggling drugs, eventually catching the eye of the cartel’s leadership.Meanwhile, Mexican-born Detective Robert Garcia has worked hard all his life and is now struggling to raise his family in America. As violence spills over the border, Detective Garcia’s pursuit of the boys, and their cartel leaders, puts him face to face with the urgent consequences of a war he sees as unwinnable.In Wolf Boys Dan Slater shares their stories, taking us from the Sierra Madre mountaintops to the,dark alleys of Laredo, Texas, on a harrowing journey into the heart of the Mexican drug trade and Gabriel’s evolution from good-natured teenager into a feared assassin. Wolf Boys depicts more than just Gabriel, Bart, and the officers who took them down. It shows the way in which the border itself is changing, disappearing, and posing new, terrifying, and yet largely unseen threats to American security. Ultimately though, Wolf Boys is the intimate story of the “lobos” themselves: boys turned into pawns for cartels. Their stories show how poverty, ideas about identity, and government ignorance have warped the definition of the American dream. WOLF BOYS: Two American Teenagers and Mexico's Most Dangerous Drug Cartel-Dan Slater
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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You are now listening to true murder, the most shocking killers in true crime, history and the authors that have written about them: Gacy, Bundy, Dahmer, the night stalker Dgk every week, another fascinating author talking about the most shocking and infamous killers in true crime, history, true murder, with your host journalist and author Dan Zupansky good evening,. This is the story of two american teens recruited as killers for a mexican cartel and therefore Suit by a mexican american detective at first
that's Gabriel. Cardona is the poster boy. American teenager, great athlete bright, had handsome and charismatic of his border town of Laredo TX are poor and dangerous and it isn't long before, Gabriel abandons his promising future for the uh. Of those letters. A drug cart with roots in the mexican military, his younger friend boy. As well as others from Gabriel's childhood join him in working for the setters boosting cars and smuggling drugs event, catching the eye of the Bartels leadership. Meanwhile, Mexican born detective. Robert Garcia has worked hard all his life and is now so going to raise his family in America. As violence spills over the border. Detective garc, He is pursuit of the boys and their cartel leaders put some face to faith face, with the urgent consequences of a war. He see these as unwinnable in Wolf boy
who is Dan Slater shares their stories. Taking, just from the Sierra Madre Mountain tops to the dark alleys of the radio Texas on a harrowing journey into the heart of the mexican drug trade And Gabriel's evolution from Goodnature teenager into a feared assassin, Wolf boy, the pics more than just Gabriel Bart and the officers who took them down It shows the way in which the border itself is changing. Disappearing. Imposing new terrifying and yet largely unseen threats to american security. Ultimately, though, Wolf boys is- the intimate story of the Lobos Themself boys turn. Coupons for cartels Their story show how poverty ideas of identity and government parents have warped the definition of the american dream: the book to Vref featuring this evening, is wolf boys. Two american teenagers and Mexico's most dangerous drug cartel, with my speci
Gas journalist, an author Dan Slater, there was a mix up with The timing of this interview this evening so hopefully we'll wait for Dan Slater to connect. I spoke to him about forty five minutes ago. Here we have Dan Slater. Good evening Dan welcome to the program Thank you very much for agreeing to this interview Evening Dan, it's good to be on your show, thanks for having me. Thank you very much incredible story. What brought you to this book and this project This investigation that you undertook what brought you to this wolf boys. What your background that brought you to this. Why did you want to write this story? Well, I think there are a couple of threads, a couple paths that led me to the
Project one was, as you suggest, you know just background. I had been gone. The LOS cool. I'd worked very briefly as a lawyer before going into journalism and I'd landed at the Wall Street Journal, where I covered sort of the legal affairs. Beat, and then I was laid off in two thousand and nine and. I was uh. I hadn't spent too long in journalism, but I was already kind of tired of sort of tradition journalism, newspaper work and I wanted to start working on books and I wanted to work on the kinds of books that I had admired as a reader and as a kid and those those were- largely narrative nonfiction. Those are the kinds of books are really liked. Like Friday, night lights, behind the beautiful forever's and I wanted to do something like that. I didn't know if I ever would or what I got the opportunity, but then around that
same time that I got laid off. I saw this store in the New York Times. It was about these two boys are actually kind of a group of boys from Laredo Texas, which is right on the border and these boys, when they you know, were teenagers, one was as young as thirteen when he started they become assassin's for this big mexican drug cartel and the head to worked for the cartel doing hits on both sides of the border, both in Mexico and in radio, and it was one of the stories that you'd be, that you read and you don't forget it and it stuck with me for one
and a few years after I saw the story. I I saw that their boss, the Mandarin the cartel they worked for, had been apprehended in Mexico and and so when I saw that story, I thought back to these boys had read about. I wondered if, if, if s of their boss of the rest of the cartel head would would have any effect favorably on their willingness to open up to me, so I reached out to them in prison there are now in the Texas State prison system, and we opened up the relationships. I open up relationships with them. We started to communicate back and forth. I visited them. We exchanged a lot of letters,
Then I started going to Laredo TX and that's how Wolf boys kind of got started. It was. It was me kind of throwing up my hands with journalism wanting to do something that was more narrative, more novelistic and then sort of the good fortune of having this opportunity come along and feeling like. It was an important story to tell Certainly now Laredo Texas. He is central in this story, so tell us about Laredo. Texas, for those people outside of axis and somewhere else in America with especially for international audience, tell us about Laredo TX and its importance to this story: yeah Laredo is a is a fascinating city. It's in South Texas, it
right on the border between Texas and Mexico, and if you look at a map, Texas is sort of at the eastern end of the two thousand mile border between the states and Mexico so it kind of aligns with the Gulf of Mexico And Laredo is a city that sort of central on the Texas Mexico Border, and it happens to be where I thirty five begins. I thirty five is a major anyway that begins in Laredo and shoots up into the US and goes all the way up to Duluth. Soda all the way up to Canada almost. And so that fact of it geography is turn Laredo into a commercial center. Only after NAFTA took effect in the early and mid 90s
Laredo really became in some ways a boom town for the companies that had invested in it. It was. It was a through way. It was where all the mexican goods shipped up in the U S arrived through, but there was this weird kind of paradox that help with the radio even wall, the companies that have invested the talent these fortune, five hundred companies we're getting rich off of NAFTA and all the commerce through Laredo itself, and the people of Laredo remained, for the most part, very poor and the radio was still even today, it's one of the poorest cities in in the US. So that was one of the questions I had when I started looking into this. For you of these, the radio for you should come to work for mexican drug cartel is is where did they come from? I mean what
what kinds of ghettos and neighborhoods in Laredo had produced, and that and when I started looking into that, I I found out that these neighborhoods were produced seen a lot of kids, a lot of young boys who had the same sort of aspiration, they didn't think about going to college and they didn't think about that sort of future. What they had on their mind was wanting to go to work for the Zetas, which is the drug cartel. That's right across the border. Now you talk about. This is a two story, Two parallel talk about in the book that you cover Robert Garcia, the detective and Gabriel Cardona, primarily so. Let's talk about Robert Garcia, you you open the book, this. Rubber Corsi is twenty nine years old in the autumn of nineteen. Ninety seven uh- and this was
Robert Garcia Senior immigrated from Peter is Negras, Mexico, probably manga what name Eagle Pass TX so tell us a little bit about Garcia and where we talk about: Robert Garcia, Junior and his life? Oh Robert Garcia Yeah senior Robert Garcia Junior play a major role in this book, mainly Robert Garcia, Junior who's, the who's, the son, he some of the immigrants and- and he was a he- is a fascinating character and he's the counterpoint to Gabriel on the Wolf boys to these boys who became op who, even though they were american, born raised. In America. They became the mexican cartel crooks Then this guy Robert Garcia, who immigrated across to Eagle, pass TX with his family when he was nine, he was in a sense from even less than the
both boys were from in Laredo I mean he was the son of these migrant farmers who came across and they worked in the onion fields and in the cantaloupe fields, picking fruits and vegetables in the summertime. They would go up north to states like Montana or again and such to work. The fields there, the sugar beet season etc, That was the kind of all that he was raised in and he he eventually decided to forgo the college thing he had gotten a scholarship. He decided not, to go to college and Robert instead enlist in the army where he met his wife and then when he came back to the states in the early now Find easy and his wife settled in Laredo and he decided to become a cop, so he went to the police academy. Laredo and he became a street cop in the 90s being a patrol
cop in Laredo, basically meant making a lot of small drug arrests. Obviously, a lot of drugs move through that city because of the bridge is there and when you're a street cop on the radio. You make a small, a lot of just kind of small arrested and, and he really got into that as a younger cop. He felt like making those drug arrests met, meant something because you weren't just taking somebody with drugs off the street. You were taking in somebody who might commit other crimes or to get
drugs etcetera. So he really believed in the drug war, and he did his job very well. He was he was awarded officer of the year in his late twenties and he was loaned out to be a federal drug enforcement administration for a six year stint, and that was the first time that that Robert got a real global city or at least a you know, a national view on the drug war. He started doing it more sort of nationwide investigations doing undercover work. We did in New York, where you go up to Detroit where to go to San Diego and he started seeing that they have all the drugs that came through Laredo.
All the law enforcement there and there's a lot of law enforcement, really don't get any. They can make a lot of small bus on the streets. They can bust the occasional truck full of marijuana or cocaine that comes across but of the overall drug traffic that comes through that city. Maybe in a good year, law enforcement is getting maybe one percent maybe two percent, and so I think that was sort of a disillusioning moment for Robert when, when he found that out, and so when he went
back to Laredo PD. After having served his time in DEA, he decided to leave these drug investigations behind and he became a homicide detective because he felt like the drug traffic itself. It was sort of futile to put a lot of resources and trying to stop that, but the violence he felt like, maybe maybe, law enforcement- could have an impact on that. So he became a homicide detective. This was in the early to mid 2000s around two thousand and three four five and that- and that was right around the time that the cartel wars in Mexico became very, very bad. And the street to spill over into into the states and specifically in the radio and Texas And- and that was around the time when the Zetas the mexican drug cartel that was right across the border. They began to recruit these american boys to do their bidding for them. On that, you know the US side, and so Robert
was faced with a situation where there were a lot of unsolved. Homicides happening all around the city of Laredo and he started to look at some of these murders and and found enough common threads and that's it was. It was those investigations around two thousand five, a spate of murders that happened that had led them to Gabriel and these other boys of a radio that the work Now, let's talk about MRS Gabriella: Cardona she's got four sons: h: four six, ten and eleven and second child is Gabriel. And he's a good student he's. Starts reading. Early older brother is Louise, then you write in their six square block neighborhood last tech. They called it. This was to fifty years old so tell us
little bit about you talk about the chaos at night in the helicopters in the cars squealing. What did Gabriella and his Is3 brothers grow up in what was the environment in Laredo what kind of neighborhood they grew up in, so that neighborhood that Gabriel and his brothers and his friends grew up and, as you say, it's called less Tecca and it is the oldest for hood in Laredo, it's actually the neighborhood that Laredo originated with it was the first neighborhood there around the 1750s before Laredo was even established to the city last Tecca. Existed, and it's this little neighborhood? That is very quaint. It's it's almost kind of quiet, even though it's
right on the border there right on the grassy knoll, overlooking the Rio Grande an you, can literally throw a stone to the beginning of I thirty five 'cause the bridges are right next door, and so let stuck up for pretty much its entire two hundred and fifty year. Existence is really been a smuggling. I don't think village is the right word 'cause, you say it's about six by six blocks start even big. But it's been a smuggling neighborhood, and so that was the environment that Gabriel and his and his brothers and his friends were born into, and they hood, where most of I don't know, if I can say most many, perhaps most uh of the men who live there and the boys who live there become involved in some aspect of the drug trade and they and they do that for afar.
Young age and it's not just a drug trade, its other black market kinds of economies that that that exists there. It's immigrant smuggling, it's US smuggling vehicles in guns, south from the? U dot S into Mexico and supplying the the mexican drug hotels with things with the things they need, so he was really born into this environment and he had a hand in most of these black market trades by the age about sixteen, He'd already dropped out of high school by then, and so less echo was really a big kind of a character. I think in Wolf boys and it's it's similar to a lot of other neighborhoods in the city of Laredo and it's similar to uh neighborhoods another other border cities like El Paso.
Neighborhoods that are largely mexican American, if not entirely mexican American, and you know basically the kids confronting situations where there doesn't appear. To a lot of opportunity. And so the juvenile crime rate is very, very high, and a lot of kids in these neighborhoods become involved in the street gang life from from pretty young age, and then it becomes Sharma's like a corporate ladder where you're trying to kind of work. Your way up the high hierarchy in in the underworld and so for someone like Gabriel, to become an employee of
date is the big organization across the border in Mexico, at the age of seventeen or eighteen, and be reporting directly to the big bosses. That was a very big deal in his world and he became very respected, and I think it was very intoxicated for him, as it would be for for a lot of young men to to kind of have that responsibility. Have that respect and be making as much money as he was, and be able to kind of give money to to friends and family who who who had nothing. Now you talk about his development as a criminal as well, because he ends up working eventually, showing his metal and being recognized and ends up working for a person named Memey, Flores and so tell us about this, as you do described in the book, the
fateful event where Gabriel meets up with well Trevino and his Take on what is been happening so far, he's enlightened to say the least, so tell us about this? incident where he meets. Somebody really respects up that corporate ladder. Yes, ten, One of the questions, one of the many questions that I had that kind of launched me into the wall for this project was the question of how does a male? How does american boy from a city of- Colorado. How do you? How do you join a mexican drug cartel? I mean what is what's the introduction flake, which the recruitment process is it? Is it Is it that you're in the school one day and everything was ok and you're on the football team? And then you have a bad week in the next You know you're talking to someone across the border who run
drug cartel, or is it more of a gradual slide? And, of course you know, we think it more of it, be more of a gradual slide in with him it. It certainly was Gabriel and all a lot of his friends. They left school. The very early age they were working in the uh. The world is very early age and with him he had been stealing vehicles. He was very good at stealing vehicles in the states and bringing them across to Mexico and and selling them there in the underworld and the reason he was good at it is because he took a lot of sedatives and tranquilizers. It's sort of wanted his inhibitions, so he was very instilling cars and one night he and his friend had stole. Eighty, I think, was a Jeep Cherokee. I could've been like any other. You know: dot doesn't day out dozens of even and they took this jeep across. And his friend had a contact at the police station in Mexico who he thought would buy it always the question when
still, the car was who, on the other side, where they're going to sell to they had several different. You know contacts, and so his friend and said. Oh, I know a cop at the mexican police station in Nuevo Laredo, the city across the border and MAC and so they went there and they were told that the cop wasn't in that evening or wasn't working, so they turn the car around and they decided to go back into Texas and what happen on the way back as they were apprehended. They were stopped and they were pulled over and what followed
is an evening that really, I think, transformed Gabriels future the people who apprehended them before they get back to Texas, where people who work for the Zetas. They had heard that these boys had tried to sell a car to a certain mexican cop and that cop was known to work for the opposition, so they took Gabriel and his friend back to a barn on a ranch, and that was the night that they met. Miguel Trevino Miguel was at that point a mid level boss for the Zetas. An extremely brutal man has has a reputation for extreme violence and and they they met him in a bar.
Miguel. Didn't trust them, he thought they work the other side and actually right when we got was about to throw a grenade into the barn just killed. Gabriel shouted out the name of this kind of a florist who was another contact that he had in Mexico another another. You know man that he he would sell guns that he stole two vehicles that he stole. Two. And so Meh Meh turned out to be a acquaintance and Associated Michaels, and that really changed opinion, and so he didn't kill them. Instead, you know he called me: Florius may came over to the site they were at, and that was the night that Gabriel was kind of taken into the cartel and in a matter of weeks he found himself at a training camp in Southern Mexico. Tell us about this incredible: almost unbelievable training camp, you talk,
well to seventy recruits that are initially there and how it whittles down to twenty Anne, what these twenty of the seventy are asked to do an what are recognized as having the ability to do so. Tell us a little bit more about this training camp who's, who's training, these people and what are they learning? Well, the trading campus staffed by a lot of some people they hire mercenaries from all over the world that were rumored to be in israeli, mercenary there at one point they try to bring in people who have military experience, The Zetas are an organization that originate 'Ed with mexican military. That's their background and one of the reasons that they were affected for a long time is because they brought that kind of military. Take no prisoners, ethos into the car
watch so at the training camps. The purpose of a lot of these exercises that these boys and young men go through in the in the six weeks for the three months of the camp is basically it's sort of a filtering process of of of the people who run run the camp, trying to figure out who has it in their blood to kill and who doesn't so it really the campus about teaching people how to kill and how to kill efficiently. I won't say too much more because I don't want. I don't want to narrate the entire book, but, but you can imagine, I think you know some of the things that would happen in that in that environment and it's you was definitely the hardest part of the book for me to write. It was the hardest part of the book for me
to to learn about and to research. But I felt like a book the tried to nail the experience of what it was like for young boy to go to work for drug cartel really needed. You know needed to have that material on it. Absolutely you talk about. Hands on training. They actually have contras there and you can tell us what they're of is and countries are seen as the enemy they have actual live. Can't is there for their exercises. Again you could just without maybe the description of it.
But it is hands on experience, isn't it it is? It's live. It's live fire. I guess is probably the most accurate way to put it. It's. You know it's, it was it's highly disturbing stuff, but yeah it is. It is live that they would. Want to see if they want to see. Do you do you? Have it in you to take a human life and then the camp is the camp is where they study find that out. So, needless to say, Gabriel passes the mustard at his friend wences. That is a character in this book as well. He is also working for the company at different different occupation, but Gabe bill has been recognized through this Meh, Meh Flores, an through
and through also Magwell Trevino as having what it takes that having the balls now well, a couple of things are going on and you talk about that saw. What peaceful existence in this drug smuggling the cartels has, is changing and you It is people like El Chapo which people are familiar with, but also when you talk about you, talk about things changing in this drug war as well. Tell us what the Z, visitors are doing in terms of two to counter what other people are doing in other drug cartels. Well, a lot of what the cartel wars are about. Maybe this is obviously some people is trying to kill off your enemies, and so the reason for someone Like Miguel trivia
Neil, who ran the Zetas or eventually would become the head of the state, is a part of what he wanted to do in this sort of two thousand five: two thousand six zero. When these boys were recruited and they worked- was to have them, do the cartels bid in the states Which really meant going after the cartels enemies in in the states, so the goal for him was to kill people who threatened his business. Or threaten this power, you know sometime to see it was a rival smuggler, but sometimes it was somebody who had who he felt it inappropriately slept with one of his ex seeing her girlfriends or something in order to to save is he feel of feels like you needed to kill that person and so sadly into magically a lot of, or at least some of the jobs that Gabriel and the other wolf boys were sent on
where jobs were they were, were sent to kill someone for for that sort of a transgression. Just some stupid You know, manly jealousy thing now: you talk about so the Wolf boys have Accredo, they have a model, and that is the Wolf boys never say no. We also have at the? Same time as all of this is going on the fight, our new poll, the Rideau you talk about, the plows Can you explain the talk of the plaza? I don't think everyone would be is familiar with what they mean by that gay. Grill is being recruited with others and Gabriel is asked by Trevino at some point. To get other american boys to join him to work at at the the plaza so tell us about this assignment.
For the positive, the positive just describes, sort of the The economic structure of a town or a hub through the car tells eyes from the perspective drug cartel every town, every kind of way point that drug and other illegal commerce travels through the plaza and the person who makes the money is the person who controls the plaza, so each town city cities its own plaza. It's a science different people The cartel and there's a pretty intricate sort of hierarchical structure within each plaza, their different roles to be filled, and so these boys and young men who go to the cartels training camp they get assigned a job in the plaza and sometimes you're, honest,
and sometimes your lookout or you're, someone who interfaces with local police and takes care of corruption or you're an accountant there a lot of accountants within within the organization. So that's that's! A plaza is. Now we also talk about back to Robert Garcia returning to Laredo Police Department after the six stressful years with the DEA, and you talk about that. He had is youngest son, had just started high school and and Eric was a senior and also that Laredo was much different in those fierce in those few years that he had worked for the DEA and murders and drug crimes were way up and so tell us about his work Roberts.
Work as a homicide, detective, and also what law, enforcement At that time. New about Miguel, Magwell Trevino. Well, you know when, when gel first started kind of working. He wasn't no really by lower law enforcement. He gained a profile and eventually Robert learns that he's going after Miguel Miguel the person who's running. All of so in a way it becomes a face off between the what is the When you talk about Gabriel Rise, sing in in status with this with the company does he have? being a kid that grew up in America, part of this book is incredible. Book is how somebody from America, under any conditions, could end up
being an assassin or does he have any reservations? Is there any incidents along the way? What is this ascension, up the ladder of this company. What does it come with? Is there again spoke to him later. But at that time does he have any reservations, whatever his feelings other than his how to be employed and in his world? This is a big big step for him tell us a little bit about some of the things that is experiencing it at that time, being an assassin well experience his sense of purpose that he's a associated with an organization where he he feels he might have a future for a kid who comes from from very opportunity that stands for a lot
and uh he's also making a lot of money and he's giving that money, like I said to his family and his friends, his mother on the girlfriend and you He's also he's also doing a lot of murders in Mexico, where the cops over there actually helping him. So I think there was some you know delusion there 'cause. He would come back over here to the states and had one thousand seven hundred and eighty I mean you don't think, always so rationally. He thought that that he would be able to work with the same impunity here they did in Mexico and because of Robert Garcia and because of american law enforcement. He found out that that was not the case. We weenie use this Dan as an opportunity to stop for a second to talk about our sponsor, which is blue, apron and blue
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well Trevino and how it comes to be that Robert Garcia, is on the trail of a Gabriel Cardona. Oh well, Gabriel, is doing. Murders and Roberts starts to investigate these murders and he comes up face to face with these wolf boys and he's trying to figure out who who working for now. How does how does he get to the point where he gets in intelligence and intel on who is involved with this and the other Wolf Wolf boys tell is that progression of events. Well, there's an investigation then, and he he learns one thing after another, and eventually he he reaches these kids, but
is the whole story. This is the plot of the book. You know there is investigate there's a there's, a homicide, investigation that takes place, and he investigates these murders that are being ordered by this. Drug cartel and eventually finds out who's at the top. Now you take us to the what we didn't talk what was the very opening of the book and the introduction, and you talk about One day there at a rental house on Orange Blossom loop are eating fast, food shopping at Walmart talking on there tap phones- and this is not too far from this border. He's got a closet. Full of Hugo boss and Ralph Lauren Versace and Kenneth Cole he's dry, Jetta. A Mercedes Suv and got a custom,
His band coming uh around him were his friends Richard his lieutenant his uncle Rall his mother's brother, Christina his girl. And and Gabriel is nineteen years old. At that time, tell us what happens in terms of this arrest and what happens as a result. Moving forward. Will they eventually Loretta law enforcement, eventually lures the boys do a safe house uh, To monitor them and to try to get enough evidence, Against them to invite not just these boys but men higher up in the cartel, and what does Robert Garcia find out but in terms of with this, in navigation with Cardona, Gabriel Cardona? What is he find out, I mean he's born in Mexico. He's used,
I think that the war was winnable. He knows that it's not any knows why it is not. What does he find Maybe it would be surprising to him working and drugs will not working in homicide. What does he see? What does he It's with this person and from the US that has turned into an assassin. Well, what he learns is how a boy becomes an assassin and and what in and why the kids thought that they could commit murders in the states with with impunity, I realize the extent of violence, the extent of corruption in Mexico and uh. He also realized the futility of. The drug war, not just because drugs are, are not stoppable but because
here a boy like Gabriel becomes one of the signature cases of Roberts career, and I think it was disheartening for him event. You know eventually to realize that that the investigation of these boys would be such a landmark. I think that was all these. Shut down now tell us again: when do you reached how to gabrielan when you contacted him and visit him? When did this begin and tell us just about that correspondence. And his response. Well Gabriel, and I communicated for about three years through letters and. You know I we're sending letters back and forth for a long time. We sent a lot of letters and that's how I learned about his life. What was the
How long did it take him? You talk about in the book that he was partying was a big part of the the company itself and was encouraged. And certainly Gabriel indulge just as well, you talk about doing roofies and he was always being he liked it fact. It's calming effect. Whoa. Is there a time when everything, all the energy and all the activity and one sitting in in a prison cell. Some of the same things that he thought were rational and reasonable? He now thought were not in tell us a little bit about the differences he thought in things once everything had stopped, and he was behind bars. Uh.
Well, I think it's taken awhile to grow up. I think he is growing in prison. He's been there since he was nineteen and a half and will probably be there for the rest of his life. He serving two life sentences. And I think he he now with about a decade hindsight that you know the crimes were atrocious- that there was really point to it all, but I think he's torn Between that revelation and the fact that he staked everything he staked his identity on this role that he carved out of being one of the young powerful guy, the violent guy, the guy who other people were afraid of and I think now he sees it he he mistake. You know you sort of missed, took a fear for respect, And I think he these. Strangely then, in some way he was sick. Your kid-
and it was really insecurity on so levels that that drove him to become what he became, and you know, I think I think, is thinking and will will of all over the over the many more years that he's prison. But that's that's where he stands now is: about thirty years old, what's the level of remorse, how far can he go from where He came to be remorseless how how much more? If any, is there in the way you Speaks to you about the crimes he was involved in, I think Again, I think he does have days when he feels remorse and I think he does have days when he accepts the need the Cayman sort of Embrace
Is this stoicism that kind of stone, cold, murder, and so I do. I do think he goes back and forth. I don't think there is one thing. I don't think it's one feeling or one perspective. I think that you really is torn between between wife, what he knows to be true, which is that what he The way he lived his life was atrocious. I yell atrocious his award, he actually use with me and then this other idea that I came from where I came from and My environment exerted certain influences on me, and and I became what I became so I do. I do think that he goes back and forth between between. What were his feelings regarding his family.
If any at all? Well, I think he got a lot of purpose out of supporting his family. I think they've been able to give money to something like his mother to give her more money in a week than she might make in six months was a he. Big deal, and I do think that drove him a lot and I think it was hard for. I spent a lot of time with his family too. I think it was hard for his family to confront that that that idea that he did what he did partly for them. But then again you know most people in in his family or in some aspect of the the world businesses, and they all do that for each other. They all break the law for each other. In the name. Culture, their environment, supporting one another and people in their family and people in the neighborhood go in and out of the prison,
like a revolving door, so it's it's a whole different world, but that was the purpose of writing. Will voice was to this too. One is to what is his his his ex Sperian's been in prison as a gang member. What I've been like well so he's in administrative segregation, so he is basically solitaire confinement he's kept away from general population. He is associated with the prison gang called her Monos pistol. And he gets along. I I think I eat again. I think he's torn between dissociated from them. There's a program in the prison system.
That gives prisoners certain special privileges if they, if they dissociate from their gang. I think he's he's thought of doing that before, but he also knows that being associated with them and give them certain protections and guarantees Hopefully, guarantees and uh so, At the moment, he's living alone he's living alone in a cell, and he doesn't have a lot of contact with with other inmates. What did what did this? case. This investigation do for Robert Garcia. What was its effect on in him and in his life. Well? It was a very dramatic cases. Private most dramatic case. He never worked on. What is more interesting cases it ever worked on, but it was also one of dozens, if not hundreds of
investigations in cartel investigations that he's been over the years Robertis Roberts. Now nearly fifty he's back on patrol he's now patrol sergeant who runs sort of Akwa Grandora section of Laredo and uh. You know the case, Brought him some attention, he goes up north and he teaches classes to law enforcement about cartel violence on the border. It's giving him some of the profile he's appeared in media. His life story has been told in my book uh, but but as far as transforming is life, I don't know I mean, maybe Donald Trump will will appoint The borders are, and then all of this come to fruition at the moment, he's still still just a cop. He started off. With thinking the war on drugs was a great thing. What was a
was a noble thing and then he thought it was an unwinnable thing: Maybe doesn't have all the answers, but does he have any thoughts about the drug war and what could be done differently. Well, I think Robert knows that it's about addressing demand on this side. Which is something that's kind of widely known and understood an. I think. He also knows that it's about putting in place policies, not just drug policies or prison reform, but policies that help family stay together and then provide more more opportunity to people. Ultimately, all this stuff begins with families, families falling apart. I've been able to support each other, it begins with absent Father's and that's really the common.
Bread. So Laredo is one of the great marginalized cities in America. It's one of many many marginalized cities. There are a lot of people in Laredo who voted for Donald Trump, because they're sick of the career politicians there frankly sick of NAFTA, their sick of jobs going to Mexico even a lot of, even though a lot of citizens there came from Mexico. It is a city, that's ninety, eight percent, hispanic American, So it's it's a city of contradictions and Robert certainly a product of that city? But I think one thing that he has learned over the course of his now been almost thirty years of the reign of police. Then it then it it's about it's about policies that help families stay together. You talked about
He wrote this book and this is for, for those will take you up on this and read this book. Is that you talk about the history and what Mexico is. Is done in terms of drug trafficking. Talk about the opium talk about a coke! need to talk about the marijuana and Yutaka. But the changing of guard between cartels. The golf cart Well, this annoyance so tell us. Not that we know. We know that things haven't changed, they haven't gotten better, but what is the state of who controls Laredo and drug trafficking in Mexico. Now. Well, then it's always just you know. Shifting, I don't know, I don't know if it's even worth while to talk about who controls a certain part. I mean it's it's a constantly shifting landscape of drug organizations? EL. This de Sinaloa
and probably half a dozen to a dozen other or other drug organizations all organism constantly cropping up kind of challenge larger organism, so the landscape is constantly shifting there. You talk about How also this is a discussion on how the border is changing and you talk about how we just Donald Trump. Is new president and, of course, Immigration Cross border traffic eagles come illegal. Immigration become big issues, obviously very big issues, is there any talk of any
concrete changes that might address this whatsoever. No, no simply not what did this entire? I know this any true crime book, but especially a book with the kind of deep bills that we avoided talking about with the training camp itself Do you happen to go and do that kind of research and find out that kind of information. What was the effect of doing this? This book and the investigation that you had to what it affected it have on you. Oh open my eyes. Big time I mean it, it was it was define at times it was also thrilling as a reporter. It was kind of what you dream of to have a sit like Laredo, an environment that you can go do that is basically gone.
Totally uncovered. There had never been a serious nonfiction book written about the seahorse that in the city and it was. It was in an environment in a cup not sure that really has its own set of rules, so, going there back and forth that city for three years was working Wolf boys, as you know, journalist was just an absolutely unparalleled experience. It was also it so it was kind of everything I mean. It is very scary. At times,. Gabriel, and I didn't always long. It could be very stressful you know, meanwhile, about their developing relationships with other young man who lived similar lives to him, who are in prison for for murder and all sorts of things you know, young young men who have proven themselves capable of doing pretty much anything and I've seen it all and
so it was unnerving for me I mean here I am sort that uh I'm basically I'm a white guy. I come from a lot of white jewish guy from the Midwest. I come from a fair amount of up. Trinity, but my parents are doctors. I got to go to college and I got to go to law school. I've had a lot of opportunity in life and I've lived largely up in up in the north and so It was it was this say the least it was. It was an eye opener to go to this pc. That is still in my own country, but is so different than anything? Not only that ever seen, but anything that ever imagined and to see that the are these american kids who you know? unlike me, are on the downside: zip advantage, but even then some and there are becoming paid assassins
For a big multi global drug organized, was. That was shocking for me it never. It never was not shocking shocking. Day to think about that so I could. I could go on and on and on about the culture shock, but yeah I mean I've. I've lived in other parts of the world. I've lived in England, I've lived in Spain. I've had the good fortune to travel to a lot of places Laredo feels as foreign any place and again just to answer my own question. Could you see how it could be possible for this person? I mean, despite the circumstances, to be able to do this. Could you wrap your head around this and say? Yes, I can understand how he could go from America
teenager into a paid assassin or no yeah Learning about Laredo and after spending time with the principle of Gabriel's high school, the principles of other high schools the dean of the local university spending a lot of time A lot of cops going on ride, alongs spending time with family time with the women who would date these young men and found this whole world alluring yeah. Absolutely I could see I could be. I could see how how seductive lifestyle would be yeah my That's surprising: well, I want to thank you very much for coming on and talking about Wolf boys to american teenagers in Mexico's most dangerous drug cartel. For those people that might want to follow us up for the other work or give a facebook page or website tells how people might
able to contact you or look at other work is at by dance later, is the twitter handle and I'm also on Facebook, and you get touch with an email. It's Daniel B Slater at Gmail dot com. Again, it's D. E l b s at g dot com, so I'd encourage readers to reach out to me. I love to hear from readers T Rowe people thought of the book will This is been out for about five months and just found out last week that one of the Laredo High School since actually mentioned the book Book United South has decided to put Wolf boys into curriculum so, hopefully other heights. It's a book, that's been take, very seriously buy Laredo, which is like the greatest thing for me, because and I was working on the often told by people.
Let no one in the Rado red there was not even a bookstore there that no one has read the book. That is proven not to be the case, so It's also going to be Movie Estonia's option. The film rights to boys and Antoine Fuqua is attached to direct he directed Movie called training day back in two thousand, and one he's done a lot of by the movie since so so. That's where things stand, but thanks a lot for talking about appreciate. Well, congratulations on the movie and congratulations on Wolf boys. It's a fascinating book. We just touched on a little bit of the incredible action that you have in the book that you've captured from all the incredible work that you've done to get this information and have access to Gabriel and and all the players in this book. So I want to thank you very much for that and
again to talk to you again soon. Thank you very much for this often, then thanks a lot. Thank you goodnight
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Transcript generated on 2019-10-31.