“Let’s face it, the heroes these days are not the lawyers or the politicians, the heroes are the guys flashing the money,” says Narco music promoter Joel Vasquez outside a Narco-corrido club in Los Angeles. Narco-corridos are drug ballads with lyrics typically spinning off a real event that glorify drug dealers and their violent and luxurious lifestyles. Narco-corridos and Narco films are gaining in popularity – not only south of the border, but mainly among the 30 million Hispanics living in America. There are dozens of clubs dedicated to Narcocorrido music and instances of the Narco Culture are mushrooming all over the United States. “They are expressing and manifesting an anti-system way of life,” says Joel “The market is bigger than ever. I think we can be the next Hip-Hop.”


From the death cults of Mexico City to the ever-changing US-Mexican border that is redefining immigration, the Drug War is touching the lives of millions, well beyond the 35,000 lives it has already claimed. While death statistics have been documented ad nauseam, far less has been said about the broader social reality created by the drug trade. This body of work focuses not only on the harsh existence in border towns, but also on the culture shared by millions of Mexicans and Latin-Americans inevitably involved in or affected by the drug trade and a desire for “Narco Luxury” in places where Narco Traffickers are the only models of fame and success for many and where addictions to money, drugs and violence have created a new culture – a Narco Culture.

Shaul Schwarz

Exhibition coproduced by the CCCB, Centre de Cultura Contemporánia de Barcelona, and the Photographic Social Vision Foundation

Shaul Schwarz

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