Cover image for Drug warrior : inside the hunt for El Chapo and the rise of America's opioid crisis / Jack Riley.
Drug warrior : inside the hunt for El Chapo and the rise of America's opioid crisis / Jack Riley.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hachette Books, [2019]

Physical Description:
ix, 256 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Glory days, 1986 -- The mentor -- Good cops bad guys -- The brothers -- No-name office -- Back with a vengeance -- Get shorty -- Saint Louis blues, 2000 -- New sheriff in town, 2007 -- The stark truth -- Homeward bound -- Border town -- Public enemy no. 1-- Long distance runaround, 2014 -- The suit -- Shorty redux.
"DEA Agent Jack Riley tells the inside story of his 30-year hunt for the drug kingpin known as El Chapo, and reveals the true causes of the American opioid epidemic"-- Provided by publisher.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
364.177 RIL Book Adult General Collection

On Order



DEA Agent Jack Riley, "[Chicago's] most famous federal agent since the days of The Untouchables " ( - Rolling Stone ) tells the inside story of his 30-year hunt for the drug kingpin known as El Chapo, and reveals the true causes of the American opioid epidemic.

Jack Riley, grandson of a Chicago cop known for using his fists, was born to be a drug warrior. Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, who farmed marijuana and opium poppies as a teenager in Mexico, was born to be a drug lord. Their worlds collided when Riley, a career special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, was promoted to lead the fight against Chapo on the border at El Paso.

Drug Warrior is the story of Riley's decades-long hunt for the world's most wanted drug lord, set against the rise of modern international drug trafficking, and America's spiraling opioid epidemic. Jack Riley started his career as an undercover street agent in Chicago busting small-time dealers. By the time he worked his way up to second in command of the DEA-a post few field agents ever reach-he had overseen every major mission to capture foreign drug kingpins since the 1990s, and had witnessed first-hand how El Chapo changed the game. As brilliant as he was lethal, Chapo not only decimated his competition, he foresaw Americans' dependence on opioids and heroin, and manipulated supply to increase demand. Riley's story culminates as he and the DEA win their greatest victory-the capture and extradition of his long-time nemesis-and Chapo faces his darkest fear: U.S. justice.

A riveting memoir of life inside the drug wars, and a never-before-seen glimpse of the inner-workings of the DEA, Drug Warrior is a critical examination of how America's opioid crisis came to be, and the extraordinary people fighting it.

Author Notes

John "Jack" Riley spent his DEA career combating Mexican and Colombian cartels and drug-related gang violence. At the time of his retirement, Riley was the highest ranking career Special Agent at the DEA, serving as the organization's second in command, overseeing global drug enforcement efforts.

Mitch Weiss is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist currently working for the Associated Press. Over the last 25 years, he has investigated government corruption, white-collar crime, police misconduct, and clerical sexual abuse. His books include Tiger Force and The Heart of Hell: The Untold Story of Courage and Sacrifice in the Shadow of Iwo Jima.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Retired DEA agent Riley reviews his three decades of combating drug traffickers in this gripping memoir. Riley was at the forefront of the efforts to apprehend Mexican drug lord JoaquA-n "El Chapo" GuzmA¡n Loera, currently on trial in New York for drug trafficking. Riley joined the DEA in 1985 and soon began working undercover, where he quickly realized the futility of racking up arrest statistics that removed a street dealer from a corner for a short while, but did nothing to address the larger organization supplying that dealer. His successes led to more and more responsibility within the DEA, where he pushed for interagency efforts to target entire cartels. In 1995, he heard about El Chapo, a Mexican crime boss who stood out because the Colombians paid him in drugs to distribute their cocaine within the U.S. Other Mexican drug lords soon followed El Chapo's lead, and with their own supply of cocaine, they were able to push the Colombians out of the U.S. market. Over the course of decades, Riley zealously pursued El Chapo, efforts that eventually paid off with his most recent apprehension in 2016 and his extradition to the U.S. Riley doesn't regard the war on drugs as close to over, noting that law enforcement can't be solely responsible for combating widespread drug addiction. This accessible look at the dangerous work of the men and women of the DEA deserves a wide audience. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

The former acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Riley, with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Weiss, recounts his dogged 32-year pursuit of the man most responsible for America's drug epidemic: Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, leader of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel. As one might expect from an officer more comfortable in the street than behind a desk, Riley effectively and straightforwardly describes how Guzmán stoked demand to increase profit from his supply and used violence, bribery, and planning to control and defend his operations, all while staying one step ahead of his would-be captors. Riley also comments (repeatedly but justifiably) on the frustration felt by the DEA owing to the ignorance of lawmakers and politicians who didn't grasp the scale of harm Guzmán and his cartel were causing. The assertion that continuous interagency communication is critical to the success of law enforcement seems patently obvious, and readers will sympathize with Riley's efforts to drive this point home to those in power. VERDICT For readers who enjoy true tales of heroic good guys chasing evil bad guys and fans of the podcast Chapo: Kingpin on Trial.-Ricardo Laskaris, York Univ. Lib., Toronto © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Author's Notep. ix
Prologue: The Chase, 2007p. 1
Chapter 1 Glory Days, 1986p. 6
Chapter 2 The Mentorp. 16
Chapter 3 Good Cops Bad Copsp. 26
Chapter 4 The Brothersp. 35
Chapter 5 No-Name Officep. 46
Chapter 6 Back with a Vengeancep. 53
Chapter 7 Get Shortyp. 64
Chapter 8 St. Louis Blues, 2000p. 74
Chapter 9 New Sheriff in Town, 2007p. 89
Chapter 10 The Stark Truthp. 110
Chapter 11 Homeward Boundp. 126
Chapter 12 Border Townp. 140
Chapter 13 Public Enemy Number Onep. 153
Chapter 14 Long-Distance Runaround, 2014p. 168
Chapter 15 The Suitp. 184
Chapter 16 Shorty Reduxp. 204
Epilogue: Wrigley Fieldp. 238
Acknowledgmentsp. 247
Indexp. 249