Book Review: Nacho Carretero – Snow on the Atlantic: How Cocaine Came to Europe 

The most controversial book about Galicia of this century. Its publication was delayed in Spain for some time by a former mayor who, as we read in the book, was corrupt. The book is now readily available, and what we read is astounding.

What a story, it reads like an exciting novel, but it’s all non-fiction! Carretero vividly recounts the long history of smuggling in Galicia. How did it all begin and how did it come to pass that Galicia became the gateway to Europe for South American drugs?

History of smuggling in Galicia

The first quarter of the book tells the history of Galicia with smuggling and explains how smuggling became so commonplace and not seen as criminal. Everyone benefited from the thriving tobacco smuggling in the 1970s. The kingpins, the accomplices, the community, but also the politics and even the police. After all, everyone smokes.

The tranquility and peace of tobacco smuggling changes in the 1980s when drug smuggling enters the scene. It’s fascinating to read how this was visible to everyone, but still the police couldn’t do anything about it. In the book, Carretero clearly explains who the main players are in the smuggling, the so-called ‘capo’s’, and how they ensured peace and were able to operate freely through collaboration. Of course, this didn’t always remain the case. From the late 1980s, the police and government also take action. The cat-and-mouse game that follows is extensively described by Carretero. The numerous police operations in the 1990s are discussed, their successes and failures. The capo’s go on the run. How do they manage to keep this up?

All aspects of drug smuggling in Galicia are covered in the book. We also briefly read about the negative consequences that the presence of so many drugs brought to the region. And we read about the prosperity for the community and local football clubs that the kingpins took care of. Truly nothing is left unexplored. Smuggling continues into this century, but it’s not like it used to be.

Who is the book Snow on the Atlantic: How Cocaine Came to Europe interesting for?

Firstly, fans of mafia stories like Narcos and Gomorrah. This book shows how drug smuggling unfolded in Galicia.
Secondly, anyone interested in the history and culture of Galicia. The book is easy to read and reveals a lot about the culture in Galicia. The smuggling is

The book has also been adapted into the Netflix series Fariña. Naturally, everything is more sensationalized and spectacularly portrayed in the TV series. Recommended for everyone interested in this book!

As far as I’m concerned, the book is an absolute must-read. I read it with utter amazement.

>> Get the book directly on Amazon

>> More books in and about Galicia

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