BOOK REVIEW: Cocaine Coast by Nacho Carretero

Cocaine Coast: A Luis Bustos Graphic NovelCocaine Coast: A Luis Bustos Graphic Novel by Nacho Carretero Page

Out: September 28, 2021

This is a graphic novelization of a journalistic account of smuggling in Galicia, a jagged coastal region of rocky inlets to the north of Portugal. This region’s entrance into smuggling began not with illicit drugs, but rather with cigarettes that were bootlegged to evade taxation. However, it wasn’t long before it was discovered that this supply chain could be exploited for illegal drugs, notably Columbian cocaine. The Columbian cartels would become a major player in the region and Galicia would become the single biggest entry point for cocaine into Europe.

This mix of graphic novel and journalism is a bit strange, but it does have its advantages. For example, maps and drawings of the coast offer a sense of how geography played into smuggling operations. The art combines a gritty style optimal to the narco- world, but with some beautiful layouts. And, the art does a good job of conveying the changing time periods, as this book covers decades of activity.

I found the book intriguing, with many insights into the hidden world of narcotics smuggling in a location that is famed for its natural beauty. There is a prose appendix that is also compelling. It discusses the response to the book (by criminals, police, and the general public, alike) and what impact that response had (and / or didn’t have) on smuggling in the region. If you’re curious about the business of narcotics trafficking, you’ll likely find this an interesting read.

View all my reviews