HORSEPLAY – True Crime Memoir – Heroin in the 80s in Vancouver written by the undercover operator who lived it every day. A Fantastic Read and a Must Read for True Crime fans

Title: HORSEPLAY
www.horseplaythebook.com

Subtitle: MY TIME UNDERCOVER ON THE GRANVILLE STRIP

Author: NORM BOUCHER

Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME, MEMOIR, ADDICTION, HEROIN, UNDERCOVER POLICE WORK   

Length: 272 PAGES

Publisher: NEWEST PRESS

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: NOVEMBER 2020

ISBN: 978-1-988732-98-5

Price: $21.95 CDN / $17.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

In his first True Crime memoir, undercover operator Norm Boucher recounts eight months spent infiltrating Vancouver’s heroin scene, a world of paranoia, ripoffs, and violence.

It is 1983 and the War on Drugs is intensifying. From his barroom observer’s seat, Boucher candidly reveals the lives of heroin addicts who spend each day looking for their next hit. Their dangerous subculture, centred around three gritty hotels on the Granville Strip, becomes Boucher’s domain as he attempts both to gain acceptance in a world far removed from his own and to keep himself safe.

With Horseplay, decorated RCMP officer Norm Boucher takes readers back to the assignment that shaped his outlook on the role of criminal law enforcement and the human side of addiction as it collides with the ruthlessness of the drug business.

MY REVIEW:

True Crime has become a topic of mainstream interest. What was once only followed by law enforcement and dedicated ‘web sleuths,’ has now become a topic discussed by “regular” people all over the world.

This newfound audience has led to the publishing of myriad numbers of books, and also to the creation of thousands of podcasts, ensuring that every subset crime is being covered. I readily admit that I am a ‘True Crime Junkie’ and have been since I was a young adult (which was a thousand years ago if you ask my kids.)

What is underrepresented in this genre is Canadian stories. Yes, there are some, but most seem to focus on serial killers and/or other sensational and well-known murder cases. That is one of the reasons why I was so interested in reading HORSEPLAY.

In HORSEPLAY we get a glimpse behind the curtain of undercover work in Canada. And, lucky for readers, we get the information straight from the undercover operator himself.

Now retired, Norm Boucher has written about one of the undercover operations he worked on in Vancouver in the early 1980s. He was tasked with befriending the heroin junkies and especially their dealers with the goal of making arrests and trying to determine where the bulk of the heroin was coming from.

In the pages of HORSEPLAY readers will be shown the truth of undercover work — that most of it is not the glamorous lifestyle shown in movies or fiction books.

Spending eight months — day after day and night after night on Vancouver’s Granville Strip with addicts whose entire lives centered around shooting heroin. As soon as they used up their supply, they spent their time hustling to find their next hit. All while trying to avoid being ripped-off, robbed or beaten.

What Author Norm Boucher witnessed during that time profoundly changed how he viewed those he interacted with.

Norm pulls no punches when he writes, but I don’t want to give away too many spoilers from the book. Because of that, I humbly suggest that if you have any interest in True Crime, in Addiction, or in the real operations of Canada’s undercover officers that you pick up a copy of this fascinating memoir. This should be required reading for all up and coming law enforcement personnel and for anyone working with people who have addictions.

I feel that this book is so important and so fascinating, I have no choice but to rate it as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the author for providing me with a free copy of this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Norm Boucher left Montreal at the age of nineteen to begin a long and rewarding career as an RCMP officer mostly dedicated to drugs and organized crime. An active member of the RCMP undercover program for over ten years, his assignments included drug trafficking, money laundering, and homicide. He eventually represented the RCMP as a member of the Canadian delegation to several Regular Sessions of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Commission of the Organization of American States, held in Washington D.C. and Mexico City, where he helped develop a community policing program aimed at drug harm reduction. His varied career included postings on the national anti-terrorist Special Emergency Response Team, as Marine drug enforcement coordinator on Canada’s West Coast, and as liaison officer in Madrid, Spain, and Santo-Domingo, Dominican Republic.

In 1983, Staff-Sergeant Boucher spent eight months infiltrating the heart of Vancouver’s heroin scene. This experience became the subject of his memoir Horseplay: My Time Undercover on the Granville Strip, which he wrote over a period of several years, while continuing to fulfill his RCMP responsibilities in Canada and abroad. In 2012, Norm Boucher retired from the RCMP as a Staff-Sergeant, dedicating his time to writing and his work as a consultant.

Norm Boucher studied literature at the University of Waterloo. He is the recipient of the Governor General’s Medal of Bravery, the Carnegie Medal, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

He is the proud father of four children and now lives in Manotick, Ontario with his wife Sally and their dog Cooper.

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MS-13 The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang By STEVEN DUDLEY is a fascinating read and was a complete eye-opener to me Check it out here

Information obtained from INSIGHT CRIME

Title: MS-13

Subtitle: The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang

Author: STEVEN DUDLEY

Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME

Length:  352 PAGES

Publisher: HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) – HANOVER SQUARE PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MAY 12, 2020

ISBN: 9781788703147

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

The definitive account of the most notorious street gang in America—the MS-13—as seen through the lives of gang members and their families caught in its malicious web.

The MS-13 was born from war. In the 1980s, El Salvador was enmeshed in a bloody civil conflict. To escape the guerrilla assaults and death squads, many fled to the US and settled in Los Angeles. Among them were Alex and his brother.

There, as a survival instinct, Alex and a small number of Salvadoran immigrants formed a group called the Mara Salvatrucha Stoners, a relatively harmless social network bound by heavy metal music and their Salvadoran identity. But later, as they brushed against established local gangs, the group took on a harder edge, selling drugs, stealing cars and killing rivals who threatened their territories. As authorities cracked down, gang members like Alex were incarcerated and deported. But in the prison system, the group only grew stronger, and in Central America, the gang multiplied, eventually spreading to a half-dozen nations in two continents.

Today, MS-13 is one of the most infamous street gangs on earth, with an estimated ten thousand members operating in dozens of states and linked to thousands of grisly murders each year in the US and abroad. But it is also misunderstood—less a drug cartel and more a hand-to-mouth organization whose criminal economy is based mostly on small-time extortion schemes and petty drug dealing. Journalist and longtime organized crime investigator Steven Dudley brings readers inside the nefarious group to tell a larger story of how a flawed US and Central American policy, and the exploitative and unequal economic systems helped foster the gang and sustain it. Ultimately, MS-13 is the story of the modern immigrant and the perennial battle to escape a vortex of poverty and crime, as well as the repressive, unequal systems that feed these problems.

……

AWARDS SO FAR:

Winner of  the 2019 J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Award from The Columbia School of Journalism Winners MARA: The Making of the MS13

Judges’ citation: This timely and incisive work, speaking directly to the mission and purpose of the Lukas Work-in-Progress Awards, centers on one immigrant Salvadoran family that represents the complexities of the story of Mara Salvatrucha (MS13), the notorious gang that is the U.S. government’s number one target in its efforts to rid the country of “criminal aliens.”

Without ever minimizing the brutality of this gang, the book dispels many of the myths surrounding its history and power. More important, MARA is the story of flawed U.S. and Central American policies over many years and the exploitative and unequal systems they create.


MY REVIEW:

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TRIGGER WARNING:
This book contains violent scenes, both physical and sexual, and should not be read by individuals who might find themselves triggered by vivid descriptions of violence and murder.


This book is NOT for the Faint of Heart. Please exercise caution when reading and if at any time you feel you need to stop reading, I encourage you to put this book down and walk away.
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MS-13 IS A CRIMINAL GANG. They are well known for their violence and brutality. 

Journalist and author Steven Dudley has spent years reporting on gangs, government and violence in Central America. In writing MS-13: The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang, he has written a comprehensive account as to how MS-13 was formed and how that gang spread from Central America to the United States.

What this book achieved for me was that it dispelled the notion that MS-13 is a strictly structured unit and that there is one singular person at the top and that all other members were co-ordinated  and part of a whole. This is simply not true. Each clique of MS-13 essentially acts on its own and sometimes cliques will war with other MS-13 cliques.

What does seem true of almost every MS-13 gang member, who spoke to the Author, is that that person grew up surrounded by violence and chaos, and had joined the gang (at least initially) as a way to protect themselves from outside forces.

President Donald Trump seems woefully misinformed about this gang and in fact gives them more credit than they deserve. By labelling MS-13 as Public Enemy Number One, all the President has done is that he has given potential gang recruits an additional reason for joining the gang. Many (even most) of the current MS-13 gang members living in the United States have fled their war-torn homelands to seek a better way of life. The problem is that when they arrive in the States, they realize that their lives are not much better than the lives they had fled.

MS:13 has been added to the list of Most Dangerous Gang Organizations in the United States.

I believe that anyone who wants to work with gang members on finding a new way of life should view this book as required reading. It is impossible to effect change if the history and dynamics of life as part of an MS-13 mara are not understood. 

I rate this book as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It is a fascinating read, but I also need to warn potential readers that the violence and brutality detailed in this book may be triggering for some people.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Steven Dudley is the co-director of InSight, a joint initiative of American University and the Fundación Ideas para la Paz in Colombia, South America, aimed at monitoring, analyzing and investigating organized crime in the Americas. Based in Washington D.C., Dudley works with a team of five investigators and various contributors throughout the region to give the public a more complete view of how organized crime works in the Americas, as well as its impact on public policy and communities from the Rio Grande to Patagonia.

Before launching InSight, he worked as the Bureau Chief for The Miami Herald in the Andean Region and wrote a book: Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia (Routledge 2004). Dudley has also reported from Haiti, Brazil, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela and Miami for National Public Radio, The Washington Post, and the BBC’s The World; and written feature articles for The Washington Post Magazine, The Economist, Columbia Journalism Review, The Progressive, and The Nation. His current projects include a documentary film, which aired on Colombia’s RCN Television in September 2010.

Dudley has a BA in Latin American History from Cornell University and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese fluently. He has taught high school as well as worked in Human Rights.

His range of experience, languages and reporting skills give him the tools to perform in any environment.

Honors and Awards:

Knight Fellowship: Stanford University : In 2007, Dudley was awarded the prestigious Knight Fellowship for professional journalists.

Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine State Award : Dudley was part of a team that won second place for international reporting in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists at its Sunshine State Awards for a series on land mines in Latin America.

Overseas Press Club Malcolm Forbes Award for Best Business Reporting from Abroad

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

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SOME INFORMATION ABOUT MS-13 FROM INSIGHT CRIME:

An MS13 linked gang in El Salvador known as the Black Widows has been convicted of forcing women to marry men and then killing their new husbands as part of a complex life insurance scheme — a case which helps shed light on women in organized crime in Central America. – Photograph and Information Obtained from INSIGHT CRIME.
The Mara Salvatrucha, or MS13, is perhaps the most notorious street gang in the Western Hemisphere. While it has its origins in the poor, refugee-laden neighborhoods of 1980s Los Angeles, the gang’s reach now spans from Central America to Europe.
While they are largely a predatory criminal organization, living mostly from extortion, the gang’s resilience owes to its strong social bonds, which are created and strengthened via acts of violence against mostly their rivals and one another.
Their activities have helped make the Northern Triangle — Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras — the most violent place in the world that is not at war. In October 2012, the US Department of the Treasury labeled the group a “transnational criminal organization,” the first such designation for a US street gang, but their criminal proceeds do not even approach those of their counterparts on that list. Photograph and Information Obtained from INSIGHT CRIME.
Marvin RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images – National Post June 2018
Marvin RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images – National Post June 2018 Toronto man’s boast of being in notorious MS-13 gang leads to deportation order