Toby Muse | KILO: Life and Death Inside the Colombian Cocaine Cartels


It’s the second most popular drug in the world after marijuana. It has fueled party scenes and helped define styles in fashion and art. It has also financed revolutions, driven unending wars, made billionaires out of peasants, and has pitted country against country. Yet little is known about cocaine’s origins in Colombia — how it’s produced, who makes it, and the lives of those affected by it. When journalist Toby Muse entered Colombia to cover the Drug War, he was shocked to see cocaine’s total control over the country’s citizens. To them cocaine is not merely a drug. Its production is not merely an underground trade. Cocaine touches everyone’s lives. It has driven a country mad. And for them, there is no escape.

Kilo: Life and Death Inside Colombia’s Cocaine Cartels is the culmination of Toby Muse’s reporting in Colombia. It’s a character-driven narrative about the very people involved in the cocaine trade — from the farmer who grows the coca to the kingpin who exports the finished product. And it is backed up by Toby’s unprecedented access throughout the cartels. In Kilo, American readers will see, for the first time, the entire cocaine supply chain, and will experience the deeply personal risks Colombians face at every stage. Kilo goes beyond previous reporting about cocaine to explore how a single plant can ensnare a centuries-old civilization. And it will provide a new perspective to readers who take the drug’s pervasiveness for granted.

Originally from Southeast London, Toby Muse has reported on Colombia and the Drug War for nearly two decades. His writing has appeared in Bloomberg BusinessweekThe New York TimesThe GuardianVice, CNN, BBC, and elsewhere. He is based in Bogota, Colombia and Washington, DC.