Narcos: Mexico shows how organized drug trafficking in Mexico originated and developed over the past decades. The series was originally planned as the 4th season of the major Netflix success "Narcos", but then developed into its own format. After telling the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar and the famous Medellin Cartel in Narcos, the plot moves on to Mexico to tell the story of Félix Gallardo (played by Diego Luna), who started out as a small- time Mexican drug smuggler and later became the co-founder of one of the most feared criminal organizations of the 1980s and 90s: the Guadalajara Cartel. His antagonist is Enrique "Kiki" Camarena (played by Michael Peña), who works for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). While seeking evidence of the Guadalajara cartel's illegal dealings, he is targeted by drug lords and eventually murdered.
The content of the series is not fiction, however: Mexico has been in the grip of a drug war for years, which was initially fought only among rival drug gangs. In the meantime, the Mexican government is trying to get a grip on the difficult situation with police and military force - partly in vain, however. For years, Mexico has had one of the highest murder and missing person rates in theworld.
Until the 1990s, drug gangs from Colombia dominated the market. After the dismantling of the Medellin cartel and the murder of Pablo Escobar, the Mexican cartels gained influence. They took control of the transportation of Colombian cocaine and thus power in the American drug business. The term "narcos" was born, as a person associated with drug trafficking is called in Mexico. It is suspected that parts of the government, police and military - presumably out of fear of "getting out of the way" - allowed themselves to be bribed with large cash payments, thus promoting the rise of the cartels.
The list of films and series dealing with Mexican drug cartels is long: It ranges from the Al Pacino classic "Scarface" to "Blow" with well-known Hollywood actors like Penélope Cruz and Johnny Depp to cult series like "Breaking Bad" and its spin-off "Better Call Saul". Although "Narcos: Mexico" also became a huge international success, there is one problem: Movies and series about the Mexican drug cartels promote the image of a country where torture, kidnapping and murders prevail at every turn. The country has been fighting this image for years. As U.S. author Héctor Tobias said in a New York Times article, "The image of the cartel member - be it a drug kingpin, a hit man or a small-time drug dealer - has become the dominant image of the Latino population on American television." However, the extent to which series like "Narcos: Mexico" actually either inspire or discourage tourists from taking a trip to Mexico has not yet been conclusively determined.
Written by Laura Zimmermann
Sources and references
Böttcher, Xenia: Mexiko. Inside Narcos, online unter: https://www.daserste.de/information/politik- weltgeschehen/weltspiegel/sendung/mexiko-inside-narcos-drogenhaendler-100.html, published on: 08.02.2021, last checked on: 10.07.2022, 17:08.
Goyes, David Rodriguez/ Franko, Katja: Profiting from Pablo: Victimhood and Commercialism in A Global Society, in: The Britsh Journal of Criminology, Vol. 62 (2022), S. 533-550.
Puyana, Juan Carlos [u.a.]: Drugs, Violence, and Trauma in Mexico and the USA, in: Medical Principles and Practice, Vol. 26 (2017), S. 309-315.
Wallisch, Gianluca: Die Gier, die Sucht, das Blut: Netflix-Srerie „Narcos: Mexico“, online: https://www.derstandard.de/story/2000092958221/die-gier-die-sucht-das-blut-netflix-serie-narcos- mexico, publiched on: 3.12.2018, last checked on: 20.08.2022, 12:14.
Wikipedia: Narcos. Mexico, online unter: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcos:_Mexico, last checked on: 26.08.2022, 21:26.