Five Things Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico Gets Wrong

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Netflix

The new season of Narcos: Mexico was released last week continuing the narrative of how the country went from small drug smuggling operations to powerful cartels with more influence than governments in some regions.

The series follows the rise and fall of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, the founder of the Guadalajara Cartel who was able to establish a large-scale drug transportation operation for marijuana and eventually cocaine as Mexican drug lords overshadowed their Colombian counterparts. The fall came after Gallardo and associates murdered DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena; a case that touched the highest echelons of Mexican politics.

While the show is a fictionalized version of events, several parts deviated drastically from known historical accounts, while others were plain factual errors. It is worth noting that in 2017, one of the location scouts for the series was killed in Mexico State, a move that put additional pressure on the studio when it came to dealing with glaring security problems. Below are five of the notable errors in season two.

Naturally, spoilers follow.

Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo did not order the murder of El Guero Palma’s family. In the show, Enrique Clavel, who is Felix Gallardo’s driver, shoots the wife of the Sinaloa Plaza boss Hector “El Guero” Palma and throws his children off a bridge. The murder comes after Palma and Gallardo had a falling out over Gallardo’s refusal to prevent the murder of a drug lord named “Cochiloco” at the hands of the Arellano Felix brothers.

The true story is considerably darker. The murders were linked to the Arellano Felix family but not Felix Gallardo himself. According to George Grayson’s Mexico: Narco-Violence and a Failed State?, After El Guero Palma spent eight years in an Arizona prison following his first arrest in 1978, his wife Guadalupe Leija Serrano left him for Clavel, who was not Gallardo’s driver–but a Venezuelan drug lord. Clavel forced Leija to take out $7 million from her bank account only to decapitate her and send her head to Palma in an ice chest. Days later, Clavel took Leija’s and Palma’s two young children and threw them off a bridge along the Venezuela-Colombia border.

-El Guero Palma did not kill Clavel with a bat. One of the last scenes in the series shows Clavel working at a shoe store where El Guero Palma and Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman arrive with various gunmen. The series shows Palma beating Clavel to death and El Chapo spitting by his corpse.

In reality, following his family’s gruesome murder, El Guero Palma tracked Clavel’s three sons to Tijuana where they worked for the Arellano Felix brothers to have them murdered and dismembered. In a similar fashion, Palma had Clavel murdered inside a Venezuelan prison. Three other Clavel associates met a similar fate, according to Publimetro.

-Comandante Aguilar was Amado Carrillo’s boss, not his employee. In the show, a Chihuahua state police commander named Rafael Aguilar is seen as an underling of the eventual leader of the Juarez Cartel Amado Carrillo Fuentes, better known as “Lord of the Skies.”

Aguilar plays a minor role in the series, but in real life he was the co-founder of the Juarez Cartel along with Pablo Acosta. According to the Los Angeles Times, Aguilar died in 1993 in Cancun when a team of gunmen ambushed him and an innocent bystander from Colorado. The murder was allegedly ordered by Carrillo Fuentes who took over the criminal organization.

Matamoros is not a beach area with hills, wrong restaurant name, and other Gulf Cartel errors. In one of the early episodes, Carrillo Fuentes travels to Matamoros to meet with the head of the Gulf Cartel, Juan N. Guerra. In one of the opening scenes, Matamoros is presented as a beach area with hills. The meeting between the drug lords takes place in “Restaurante Matamoros.” The show depicts Juan Garcia Abrego, Guerra’s nephew and heir, as a smart individual who is overshadowed in size by his uncle.

In reality, Matamoros does not have any hills and is not a beach city, but is 20 miles west of one called Playa Bagdad. During his tenure as the Matamoros kingpin, Guerra held court at his restaurant Piedras Negras on Sixth Street, less than a block away from Reforma Theater. While the restaurant was known for its good fare, its fame came from being a place where average citizens and traffickers alike could request an audience with Guerra. Guerra’s nephew, Juan Garcia Abrego, was known for his large stature.

-There is no Brownsville Sheriff’s Department. In one of the scenes where Felix Gallardo is visiting Guerra, his nephew Juan Garcia Abrego mentioned that half of the Brownsville Sheriff’s Department would go to Guerra’s parties.

While the Rio Grande Valley has seen several border area sheriffs go to prison for working with the Gulf Cartel, there is no “Brownsville Sheriff’s Office.” Brownsville, Texas, is located in Cameron County.

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and senior Breitbart management. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com

Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and senior Breitbart management. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at bdarby@breitbart.com.     

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