Sometimes a show that is based on a true story is so good that you have to go and read the book. That is how I ended up reading At the Devil’s Table by William C. Rempel. This is the story about Jorge Salcedo and how he took down the Cali cartel from the inside.
At The Devil’s Table: Summary
Jorge Salcedo was an engineer with dreams to join the Colombian army. One day his close friend approaches him and takes him to meet an unknown group of people that are interested in his talents. The people Jorge ends up meeting are the four godfathers of the Cali cartel.
The Cali Cartel smuggles cocaine and various other drugs to the United States and many other countries. But Jorge will only be in charge of security and won’t be getting his hands dirty. “I’m not like them” is what crosses Jorge’s mind and helps him keep his sanity while working for one of the most powerful cartels in the world.
Jorge was hired to help protect the families of the Cali cartel’s bosses from Pablo Escobar, the kingpin of drug trafficking and a force to be reckoned with. The DEA and the Columbian government are after Escobar and that has led to Escobar becoming unhinged and even more violent than before.
The Cali bosses want Jorge to use his connections in Great Britain to take down Escobar. Until Escobar is killed, The Cali bosses won’t fee safe. The assassination of Escobar is also personal for Jorge as Escobar killed his childhood friend.
But the story doesn’t end with Escobar for Jorge. Now, the Cali cartel wants to make a deal with the Columbian government and retire from the cartel. For Jorge, this is a great time to exit and clean his hands of the cartel. However, his resignation is declined and things take a turn for the worse.
The Columbian government and the DEA are after the Cali cartel now that Escobar is out of the picture. That leads to the Cali cartel becoming more violent than Jorge is used to. And he wants out. But nobody walks away from the cartel alive.
For Jorge, his only choice is to become a double agent and help the DEA capture Miguel, one of the Cali bosses who Jorge provides security for. That means Jorge has to take risks which put not only him but his whole family in danger if he gets caught. But with Jorge’s help, the DEA can put an end to the Cali cartel’s reign.
The real life accounts of Salcedo’s story are better than most fictional shows about the cartels. If you have watched Narcos on Netflix (like I did), then you will see a lot of discrepancies. About 60 percent of the show is based on actual events. For convenience, a lot of stuff was removed or exaggerated.
As you can imagine, Jorge’s life was in danger after what he did. He is now living in the United States after being put into into the witness protection program. There is still a hit placed on him by the cartel.
As someone who enjoys wild non-fiction novels, this one was an adventure. I wanted to read the actual accounts instead of the dramatized version on Netflix and was glad I did. This was an amazing novel and award-winning investigative reporter William C. Rempel did a fantastic job with this novel.