Caryn Dolley hopes her new book on the global drug trafficking rings operating in South Africa will help the reader understand what is happening right under her nose.
On Wednesday, November 9, his last outing, Clash of the Cartels: Unmasking the global drug lords stalking South Africa, has been the subject of a Daily Maverick webinar hosted by Dolley in conversation with crime reporter and author Mandy Wiener.
This is Dolley’s third book, after The Enforcers – In the deadly nightclub battles of Cape Townreleased in 2019, and To the wolves: how treacherous cops shaped the South African underworld, released in 2021. The book was released at the end of October. Planned book launch events have been canceled due to security concerns.
Asked by Wiener what prompted the book, Dolley said she started looking at drug trafficking cartels, which led her to map how these cartels overlap in South Africa. “Serbia took a lot from me,” she said of the content of the specific chapter, which mixes gangsterism and politics. She called this chapter “meaty”. Other organized criminal networks she mentioned in the book are in Brazil, Italy, the United States, India and Afghanistan.
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While the book’s chapters focus on countries and cartels, the book delves into characters. “Several of them in South Africa. Some of them live in South Africa,” Dolley said.
One of them is Nelson Pablo Yester-Garrido, a Cuban national who lived in South Africa and ran a dagga distribution network from the country. Dolley has written extensively about him in DM168 from the daily Maverick print publication and realized she had a lot of information about him – which went into the book. When Weiner asked what the book’s entry point was, she pointed to Yester-Garrido, featured in the book’s introduction.
Read an excerpt from the book here: Caryn Dolley’s Clash of the Cartels: Tracing the Footprints of the Drug Lords
“It’s about illicit savings,” Dolley said. When it comes to gangs, drug rings and violence, Dolley said “it’s not that regional problem.” She explained that the country was in the clutches of global organized crime. Dolley said that while gangs overlap in the country, there are also gang clashes and intra-gang fights.
“If there’s infighting, there’s violence,” she said, as Serbian, Brazilian and Italian organized crime gangs worked together.
But a big problem was law enforcement – with several allegations that law enforcement officials are complicit in organized crime, adding to the workload of honest cops. “It makes me furious,” she said in reference to the news that the drugs disappeared from police stations where the drugs are supposed to be under the watchful eye of the police.
But it goes beyond the police and extends to politicians. “You always get this person supported by this person who is in this party,” she said.
Dolley would also add that there were smear campaigns against “people who do good”.
When asked what she wanted to accomplish with this book, Dolley said she wanted people to understand what’s going on, so people understand that “a simple murder isn’t just a simple murder,” she said.
What’s next for Dolley? Is she planning another book and, if so, on what?
“I don’t choose; it always chooses me,” she replied. DM