NETFLIX’s hit drama series Narcos is switching the action from Colombia to Mexico for its fourth series.
It will focus on the real-life kingpins who set up the feared Guadalajara Cartel around 1980. Here’s the story.
What is a cartel?
A cartel is an organised group working together to control a market.
It was first used for political coalitions in Germany in the 19th century and later referred to trade deals.
Today the OED defines a cartel as: “An association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition.”
Oil-rich nations in the Gulf have in the past been accused of cartel behaviour, such as agreeing among each other to limit production to keep prices up.
In the UK and many countries, competition law bans companies from working together as a cartel.
A drugs cartel is a kind of highly organised and lucrative mafia business empire involved in trafficking narcotics such as cocaine.
Supply routes and hierarchies are ruthlessly enforced by murder and violence. Police are bribed or killed to stop them interfering.
Colombia and Mexico are well known for their cartels, whose turf wars have led to terrifying levels of violence and thousands of deaths.
The third series focused on the infamous Cali Cartel, whose founders split from Escobar and his Medellin henchmen.
In June 2017 a Los Zetas hitman who chopped up a girl of six with an axe so her parents would “remember” him was jailed in Texas.
Who were the Guadalajara Cartel?
Guadalajara, the leafy capital of of Jalisco state in the west of Mexico, has long been regarded as a seat of power for the cartels who control drug trafficking from South America to the US.
In the late 1970s, a government crackdown on heroin and cannabis producers forced many drugs lords from Sinaloa to Guadalajara.
Dozens of kingpins formed the new Guadalajara Cartel in around 1980.
Their names still instil fear almost 30 years after the cartel was broken up.
Gallardo, known as El Padrino or the Godfather, at one point effectively ran the drugs trade in the whole of Mexico.
His Guadalajara Cartel were among the first in Mexico to conspire with Colombian cocaine mafia groups to traffic their product to the US.
They prospered from the trade, allegedly under the protection of Mexico’s DFS intelligence agency.
But Quintero and Carrillo were eventually arrested and Gallardo was forced underground.
Gallardo convened the country’s top narcos at a house in Acapulco to divide up the turf – before he too was arrested in 1989.
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Quintero, jailed for 40 years for killing a DEA agent, was mistakenly released from jail in 2013 and is now a fugitive with a $20million bounty offered for his arrest.
Carrillo and Gallardo are still in prison.
El Chapo, a member of the Guadalajara Cartel, went on to form the Sinaloa Cartel that controlled much of Western Mexico for the next two decades.
Recently, battles for control among the various mobs that sprang up from the Guadalajara Cartel have led to a full-blown Mexican Drugs War.
In May 2018, three film students and at least nine others were dissolved in acid in Guadalajara by hitmen working for the Jalisco New Generation cartel
Narcos hits Netflix on Friday, November 16
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