Press Release:

“Narco Estado: Drug Violence in Mexico.’

A book by war photographer Teun Voeten.

At the end of 2006, newly elected president Felipe Calderon declared the war against the powerful cartels that smuggle Colombian cocaine and domestically produced crystal meth and marihuana into the USA. Approximately 50.000 people, according to conservative estimates, have died in the ensuing drug violence, more casualties as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

The cycle of violence has spun out of control, since the cartels are involved in a war on two fronts: One against the authorities, the other amongst themselves about lucrative smuggling routes. The last battle is even more ruthless. Torture, beheadings, mass killings, public executions and drive-by shootings have become normal. Cartels try to compete with each other in sadism and fierceness. Glorification of extreme violence penetrates popular culture. People who can afford it, try to escape the violence by fleeing to the USA. Corruption has infiltrated all levels of society, from the lowest ranking police cop till the highest circles in the federal government.

Ciudad Juarez, with four bordercrossings into the USA of crucial strategic importance, has become Ground Zero in the Drugs War. With 3600 murders in 2010, Juarez was the most dangerous city in the world. 98 % of the killings are never resolved. Police and forensic services rush from one crime scene to the next and often do no more as make a brief report. On top of this, small criminals and wanna-be gangsters operate in this vacuum of lawlessness and impunity.


Teun Voeten studied Cultural Anthropology in the Netherlands. He covered the conflicts in Ex-Yugoslavia, Colombia, Rwanda, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, Honduras, DR Congo and Libya for magazine such as Vanity Fair, Newsweek, The New Yorker and National Geographic. He also works for the International Red Cross, Human Rights Watch and the UNHCR. He wrote two books: 'Tunnel People', an anthropological-journalistic account of 5 months living with an underground homeless community in New York and 'How de Body' Hope and Horror in Sierra Leone', describing Voeten's trip to this country that nearly ended in disaster when he was hunted down by rebels.

In 2011 Voeten organized a photo-exhibition, "10 years after 9/11" as a guest curator for ‘GEMAK, a dependance from the Den Haag Fotomuseum Currently, he is writing a PhD thesis at Leiden University on extreme drug violence in Mexico.