Written by Ioan Grillo. As a teenager in Brighton the author witnessed the rise of drug use in 1980s Britain. He also knew four young men who died of heroin overdoses. Twelve years ago he arrived in Mexico with ambitions to be 'a foreign correspondent in exotic climes'. But the most compelling story that demanded attention was the extraordinary and terrifying power of the drug cartels and the violent world of 'El Narco'.
It all begins with a simple flower on a hill. Asian opium poppies (as trafficked and traded by the British from India to China ) arrived in Mexico with Chinese labourers in the 1860s.
Read by Rupert Degas
Abridged and produced by Jill Waters
A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.