The introduction begins with the story of Carolina, a mother who struggles with her son’s addiction to paco, a cheap and pernicious drug that is increasingly common in the poor neighborhood where she lives. In describing her plight, Carolina articulates what constitutes the empirical object of this book: the illicit collaboration between police and drug dealers. The remainder of this chapter sets up the focus on not only overt and visible state interventions, but also the clandestine, hidden relations that structure life at the urban margins. To do so, it introduces the book’s unique combination of data: ethnographic evidence in a poor neighborhood combined with an original legal archive of court cases and, in particular, highly revealing wiretapped phone conversations between drug market actors and agents of the state. It concludes with an overview of the book and a note on the ethics of studying poverty and violence.
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