"Narcos México": 5 historical keys to understand the Netflix series | BBC | World | Mexico


While Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán he was not an apprentice of drug trafficking, several men were lords and masters of the nascent narco-trafficking business in Mexico.

Men like Pedro Avilés, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, Ernesto "Don Neto" Fonseca or Rafael Caro were the pioneers of a lucrative and violent business that transformed the country to the present.

The series "Narcos Mexico", released by Netflix Last week, he portrays the origins of these names in a "dramatization inspired by real events."

As it is not a documentary work, several of the passages portrayed in the production have changed in relation to what the story says happened.

However, several moments are fundamental to understanding the world of drug trafficking and the situation of Mexico nowadays. And on BBC World we highlight five.

1. Origin of the cartels

In the 1980s, three decades later, the structure of Mexican drug trafficking organized in "cartels" was forged.

The series of Netflix marks the appearance of the Guadalajara cartel – located in the second largest city of Mexico– as the beginning of the great union of drug trafficking organizations in 1980.

Until then, there were small flocks operated by local chiefs, but the association led by Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo laid the foundations of drug trafficking.

He was seconded by Ernesto "Don Neto" Fonseca, Rafael Caro Quintero, Manuel Salcido "El Cochiloco", Juan José Quintero, Pablo Acosta, Jesus "El Mayo" Zambada and Juan José Esparragoza "El Azul".

The union was also the breeding ground for men such as the Arellano Felix brothers, the Beltrán Leyva brothers, Hector "el Güero" Palma and the future and powerful leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, who was head of security at the beginning.

"Nearly illiterate peasants like Caro Quintero, Don Neto, El Azul, El Mayo and El Chapo would not have gotten very far without the collusion of businessmen, politicians and police," explains the journalist Anabel Hernández in his book "Los señores del narco."

But for those times (1984) another organization was also erected in the east of the country: the Gulf Cartel, one of the most powerful since then.

The roots of this organization are even older because led by Juan Nepomuceno emerged as a smuggler of alcohol bands at the time of the ban in the USA in the 1930s.

2. Was the Chief of Staff the first?

Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo marked a before and after in the history of drug trafficking Mexico.

As you analyze the series of Netflix, the so-called "Chief of Chiefs" was the promoter of the first large-capacity organization for the production and trafficking of Mexico to the United States.

But he was not the first Mexican boss to bring cocaine to the United States, as the series refers to. It was his mentor and former chief of the Sinaloa gang, Pedro Avilés, according to research by Anabel Hernández.

The so-called "León de la Sierra", assassinated in 1978, was the pioneer in bringing this drug from South America.

When the Guadalajara gang was established, Felix Gallardo also wanted to expand it to cocaine and contacted Pablo Escobar, leader of the Medellín Cartel in Colombia.

In the late 1980s, Félix Gallardo's alliance with Escobar dealt with 60% of the cocaine consumed in the United States via Mexico, according to the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Although not the first, the "chief of chiefs" was the major promoter of this area of ​​drug trafficking.

A key man was Amado Carrillo Fuentes, dubbed "Lord of the Heavens" by the fleet of Sabreliner, Learjet and Cessna planes he owned.

Carrillo Fuentes would be after the death of Escobar the "successor" of the market, with "El Chapo" Guzmán, the brothers Beltrán Leyva and Héctor Palma on the rise, explains Hernández.

3. Caro Quintero changed everything

"Narcos Mexico"he describes the capo Rafael Caro Quintero as a carefree guy, one of the most violent members of the Guadalajara cartel and who managed to make a young woman fall in love with the ruling family of Jalisco.

But his personality also led him to commit one of the organization's biggest mistakes: the kidnapping of US agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena of the DEA.

Caro Quintero, originally from the same municipality of El Chapo Guzmán, grew up between planting and picking marijuana, and little by little he rose to being one of the most powerful drug traffickers of the 1980s.

"Caro Quintero belongs to the generation that laid the foundations for cocaine trafficking," says journalist José Reveles.

Already as the capo of the Guadalajara cartel, Caro Quintero was known for his extravagant life and his taste for women, particularly one he fell in love with: Sara Cosio, the niece of Governor Guillermo Cosío.

He was arrested in Costa Rica after Caro Quintero fled after executing the plan to assassinate agent Kiki Camarena, explains journalist Anabel Hernández.

"Don Neto confessed that he and Caro Quintero had made the decision to kidnap Camarena," explains Hernández.

This fact led to the greater involvement of the United States in Mexican drug trafficking, which led to the disintegration of the Guadalajara cartel and changed the game board of the time.

A controversial decision by a judge granted him his freedom in 2013, a decision that was contested too late, since he had already been released.

He is currently one of the most wanted fugitives Mexico and both the US Attorney's Office and the DEA offer rewards for their location.

"We are committed to bringing to justice this dangerous criminal leader and cartel responsible for the brutal murder of a DEA agent," said FBI deputy director David L. Bowdich this year.

4. The historic El Búfalo ranch

One of the biggest scams for the Guadalajara cartel was the seizure of more than 13,000 tons of marijuana from El Búfalo farm, according to journalist Jose Reveles.

The plantation was not in the state of Zacatecas, as the Netflix series says, but in Chihuahua state (north), in the arid region of Camargo, where agriculture requires enormous resources.

"Caro Quintero invented a way to industrialize marijuana cultivation: supposedly he was the one who conceived the operation of the El Búfalo farm," explains Anabel Hernández.

The plantation counted, according to the current investigations, with the protection of the Federal Directorate of Security and it worked more than 10,000 employees.

"It was an authentic marijuana factory," says Hernandez.

There, the Federal Prosecutor's Office, in collaboration with the DEA, led the military operation that led to the seizure of $ 8,000 million at the time.

The trial of Caro Quintero determined that the capo kidnapped Kiki Camarena for having been part of the intelligence operation that gave the operation against the ranch El Bufalo.

5. Half a million deaths in 30 years

In the opening of the series, the producers release impressive data on drug violence: "In the last 30 years, in Mexico half a million people were killed. "

Mexico He suffered high levels of violence as a result of organized crime, a situation that has worsened since the government began the so-called "war on drugs" in 2007.

From January 1997 to October 2018, when there is an official count, 358,077 people died in the country, victims of "intentional homicide", that is, intentional killings.

These statistics may include homicides resulting from common drug trafficking activities and murders, but there is an incalculable "black figure" of murders that are not known.

Murders in Mexico since 1997

Official data

If we look at the stable trend between 1997 and 2007, there were an average of about 13,000 homicides per year.

A calculation of the previous nine years – to conform the three decades that covers "Narcos Mexico"from 1988 to 2018 – would add about 117,000 more homicides to the 358,077 of the existing count.

This leads to a total of some 475,000 murders in Mexico in 30 years, something close to what the series says, but this could only be proven if there really is a record.

"A story that never ends," he says.Narcos Mexico"when talking about the violence of drug trafficking.


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