Strange Trade: The Story of Two Women Who Risked Everything in the International Drug Trade

Strange Trade: The Story of Two Women Who Risked Everything in the International Drug Trade

by Asale Angel-Ajani
     
 

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Strange Trade tells the compelling stories of Mary, a Liberian drug courier with a college education, and Pauline, a Ugandan wife, mother, and drug cartel boss. A leading expert on women and organized crime, Asale Angel-Ajani spent years interviewing these women in Italy's notorious Rebibbia Prison—and gained unprecedented access into the narcotics trade.See more details below

Overview

Strange Trade tells the compelling stories of Mary, a Liberian drug courier with a college education, and Pauline, a Ugandan wife, mother, and drug cartel boss. A leading expert on women and organized crime, Asale Angel-Ajani spent years interviewing these women in Italy's notorious Rebibbia Prison—and gained unprecedented access into the narcotics trade. Herself the daughter of a drug trafficker, Angel-Ajani brings a wrenching, deeply personal perspective to the account of these women's lives, and offers a nuanced understanding of the global context within which African women are entering the drug trade in ever-increasing numbers.

Strange Trade follows Pauline and Mary as they traverse three continents, survive wars, poverty, and shattered families, secure drug shipments, and commit murder. Angel-Ajani paints rich, intimate, and profoundly surprising portraits without glamorizing, sanitizing, or offering judgment. The result is an unvarnished journey into a world that, until now, has remained hidden; and a glimpse into the motives that led these women to risk—and ultimately lose—everything.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Close-up account of the international drug trade, seen from the point of view of its foot soldiers.

Drawing on her dissertation research, anthropologist Angel-Ajani leads readers into the minor hell of Italy's Rebibbia Prison, erstwhile home of some hundreds of Africans implicated in drug smuggling. The author examines two of them closely. One is a Liberian woman named Mary who, though well-educated, chose not to ask many questions when pushed into her role as a mule—and probably wisely, for, once caught, her vengeful handler held her children as ransom until she repaid him for the loss. The other, far more formidable, is a Ugandan woman who, outwardly friendly, gives Tony Soprano a run for his money—and who, as the story progresses, tries to turn her putative friendship with the author to nefarious ends. As Angel-Ajani acknowledges, a pool of two informants is small—and, in fact, she interviewed many other men and women—but both Mary and Pauline are metonyms for larger, more troubling trends. Africa once did not figure heavily in the international narcotics trade, but increasingly it is falling into the sway of the Latin American cartel, with the danger that African—and particularly West African—nations might "succumb to the same kind of open warfare between the state and criminal gangs" as is now evident in Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and other Latin American countries. African women are increasingly involved in this trade, as the author's interviews make clear. Some, like Pauline, do so as "a quick, though dangerous, way to have a more expansive life," though more often because few other doors are open to them economically. In the struggle to feed their families, the niceties of law necessarily fall by the wayside.

Competent but too anecdotal; a stronger grounding in the facts and figures of the illicit drug market would have given this talky narrative more context.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781580053792
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/28/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
File size:
1 MB

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