6079 - ¿ Molly Maria Wendt and the Making of Transnational Narcotics Investigations¿

On August 5 1936, Customs officials in San Pedro, California detained Molly Maria Wendt. After inspecting her trunks, they thought they had captured a silk smuggler. Upon closer inspection, customs officials found secret compartments that yielded 54 pounds (862.75 ounces) of pure heroin valued at $100,000 dollars (2010: $1, 572,00) once diluted it would have had a value of over one million dollars (2010: 15,715,000). Wendt worked for the Lefenholtz Branstatter organization, a global trafficking entity based in Mexico City with links to Shanghai, Los Angeles, New York, Havana, and Berlin. Although Wendt portrayed herself as a mule, she, her partners, and the people who worked to dismantle their operation had a tremendous impact on the popular culture in the 1930s and 1940s and her case informed policy on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. Mexican and U.S. officials worked jointly on the case by sharing information, interrogating the suspects, and disposing agents on both sides of the border. Lastly, this tale became the basis of the 1948 film To the Ends of the Earth that created a separate narrative of vice.

Keywords: Mexico, transnational, crime, commerce, vice

Author: Carey, Elaine (St. John's University, Ud States of Am / USA)


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