Marijuana Legalization: Mary Cuddehe's New Book 'Agent Zapata' Takes on America's Changing Drug Culture

This November, Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use, becoming the first and only states to completely legalize the substance.

In February of last year, there was also a first. The death of agent Jaime Zapata — the first time in over 25 years that an American federal agent has died "in the line of duty."

Zapata was killed by Mexico’s largest and most gruesome drug cartel, Los Zetas, while driving with his partner through central Mexico.

New York journalist Mary Cuddehe covers the murder in her newly released e-book, Agent Zapata. What began as a simple shooting quickly escalated when it was discovered that the guns used to kill agent Zapata were American and possibly trafficked through the U.S. as part of the ill-conceived “Fast and Furious” program.

The operation sold tagged guns to smugglers in the hopes of following them up the drug cartel chain. Unfortunately, our government lost them. Instead of leading law enforcement to the cartel leaders, hundreds of firearms were put in the hands of violent criminals.

The U.S. government has a lot of blood on its hands when it comes to restricting marijuana. Cuddehe’s book takes a detailed look at these well intentioned, yet fatally flawed initiatives, and how they may have led to Zapata’s death.

With legalization beginning to emerge as a potential solution to drug violence, it may get worse before it gets better. For anyone interested in how the current situation in Mexico stands, Agent Zapata is an excellent primer. 

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Marni Chan

Marni has a M.A. from NYU's Arthur Carter Journalism Institute's Cultural Reporting and Criticism Program, where she studied under Susie Linfield, Katie Roiphe, and Dennis Lim. She also has a B.A. in history and politics from Pomona College. Marni has previously written for Forbes, AOL, and Conde Nast Traveler.

MORE FROM

The 'RuPaul's Drag Race' finale format change just saved the show from predictability

Predictability seized the last few seasons of 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' but season nine's finale flipped the script.

Journalist Kevin Powell sues 'All Eyez on Me' filmmakers, claims they stole from his Tupac articles

More bad news for the embattled Tupac Shakur biopic.

Who won 'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 9?

A lip-sync battle tournament leads to a surprising winner.

Halsey just started a feud with Iggy Azalea

The pop singer thinks Azalea is a "fucking moron."

'Game of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin has a new TV show in the works

An early, gory novella from Martin is heading to Syfy.

The 'Will and Grace' revival will lay out the "rules" in the premiere

Series creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan are addressing that pesky finale

The 'RuPaul's Drag Race' finale format change just saved the show from predictability

Predictability seized the last few seasons of 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' but season nine's finale flipped the script.

Journalist Kevin Powell sues 'All Eyez on Me' filmmakers, claims they stole from his Tupac articles

More bad news for the embattled Tupac Shakur biopic.

Who won 'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 9?

A lip-sync battle tournament leads to a surprising winner.

Halsey just started a feud with Iggy Azalea

The pop singer thinks Azalea is a "fucking moron."

'Game of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin has a new TV show in the works

An early, gory novella from Martin is heading to Syfy.

The 'Will and Grace' revival will lay out the "rules" in the premiere

Series creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan are addressing that pesky finale