Don Winslow’s ‘Cartel’ Book Trilogy to Be Developed Into TV Series at FX

Ridley Scott will be an executive producer, with Shane Salerno co-writing the pilot

Don Winslow Cartel
Penguin Random House/Getty Images

FX is developing a TV series based on Don Winslow’s “Cartel” book trilogy, with Ridley Scott on board as an executive producer.

Winslow will executive producer the series with Shane Salerno (“Armageddon,” “Avatar”), who will co-write the pilot. The project is currently looking for a full-time writer and showrunner to steer the series. FX is producing it with Salerno’s The Story Factory.

The trilogy, massive in scope and ambition, follows a DEA agent, Art Keller, on a harrowing 45-year journey through America’s longest-running war: the War on Drugs. Shocking in its brutality, raw in its humanity – it portrays Mexican cartel power struggles, the narcos and cops on both sides of the border, the traffickers and drug mules, lawyers, journalists, junkies, teenage hitmen, children seeking asylum, and political corruption from poppy fields in Mexico to the White House.

Winslow published the first book in the trilogy, “Power of the Dog,” in 2005, with its follow-up coming a decade later with 2015’s “The Cartel.” The third book in the series, “The Border,” was published on Feb. 26 and debuted Thursday at No. 3 on the New York Times’ Best Seller List.

“I have known and respected Shane Salerno and Don Winslow for almost 20 years, and am beyond thrilled to be working with them again on the series adaptation of Don’s magnum opus – the trilogy made up of his three critically beloved and commercially successful novels, said FX Networks CEO John Landgraf.  “Don has masterfully woven his intricately detailed research into cartel’s and America’s war on drugs into what is widely regarded as one of the great crime epics of all time.  Nothing excites the team at FX more than the daunting challenge of helping great creators make a television show as ambitious and good as the epically acclaimed books on which it will be based.”

The trilogy has made Winslow also a central figure in the national debate over border security, the handling of migrant children, the opioid crisis, and the influence of foreign money on the highest levels of U.S. government. His public criticism of President Trump’s drug and immigration policies has included features and profiles in major publications such as Vanity Fair, Esquire, The Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, and Entertainment Weekly, and on national television networks such as CBS, MSNBC, PBS and CNN.

The project is the second major TV deal for The Story Factory. The production company is also behind the upcoming miniseries set at CBS Studios based on former FBI director James Comey’s memoir, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.” That project is being penned by “Captain Phillips” writer Billy Ray, with Alex Kurtzman’s Secret Hideout also on board. The miniseries could air on either CBS All Access, CBS broadcast network or Showtime.

Deadline first reported the news.