Imagine a genetically altered plant disease exists that could wipe out the production of cocaine worldwide virtually overnight by specifically targeting and destroying coca plants. Now imagine you are in the position of making the call whether to unleash that virus.
The decision whether to do so or not isn’t as easy as it may initially seem, as DEA Agent Jake MacQuilkin learns when he’s thrust into that position in William Wilkerson’s The Eradication Dilemma.
After serving for years as the DEA’s point man in Latin America, MacQuilkin leaves the department after a bust gone wrong causes the death of a fellow agent… who also happened to be his fiancée.
MacQuilkin’s called back into action when the genetically altered virus starts wiping out coca crops in Bolivia despite the program having officially been shut down by the US Government. Now, instead of destroying the cocaine industry, the agency actually wants MacQuilkin to use his expertise and experience in Latin America to find and stop whoever is behind the rogue unleashing of the virus.
Initially MacQuilkin is reluctant to get involved. After all, isn’t wiping out the cocaine industry a good thing? Wasn’t that what he was fighting for all those years, and what his fiancée lost her life trying to accomplish? Unfortunately, it’s not just the cocaine which would be wiped out, but also a sizable portion of the economies of Peru, Bolivia, and other Andean nations.
It’s not the drug problem. It’s the economics of the drug problem. Entire industries have grown up around acquiring the necessary chemicals for cocaine production, providing transportation or money laundering… Coca production indirectly supports twenty to thirty percent of their economies. In Peru alone, that’s seven million people who will have trouble finding their evening meal if all the coca is suddenly wiped out.
Indeed, as both the coca virus and word of it spread throughout the Andean nations a financial panic sets in which threatens to bring on a complete economic collapse. And despite assurances to the contrary, naturally the governments of those nations suspect the US of unleashing the virus. The resulting chaos, both within the affected nations as well as between them and the US, threatens to spin out of control unless MacQuilkin can stop the spread of the virus before it’s too late.
Author William Wilkerson clearly did some research of his own in “creating” the coca virus, and goes into enough detail about how the virus was genetically altered to make it sound plausible without drowning the reader in scientific minutiae. He pulls off that same balancing act in laying out the political and financial structures of the Andean nations involved, allowing the reader to really get an understanding of how the potential destruction of the coca crop has implications far beyond just ending the “drug problem;” it genuinely poses a dilemma, the resolution of which has worldwide repercussions.
The Eradication Dilemma is a fast-paced thriller which presents a very intriguing and believable scenario. And true to the complexity of the scenario posed in the book, Wilkerson doesn’t provide a tidy ending where all loose ends get tied up. This particular story may be over, but more dilemmas remain…