“Narcos” has been renewed for two more seasons, but since Pablo Escobar’s tale has reached a grisly end, who will be the next target of the War on Drugs? We have a few ideas.
We’re guessing the series’ third season will focus on Gilberto Orejuela, Escobar’s ally-turned-enemy who got revenge by taking all of his wealth after his death in exchange for shipping Escobar’s family out of Colombia. At the peak Orejuela’s rule, the Cali Cartel formed a network of independent cells that became responsible for 90 percent of Europe’s illegal cocaine trade and 70 percent of the U.S., Time reported.
The Cali Cartel’s demise is also perfect for TV. In 2007, the LA Times revealed that the cartel’s head of security, Jorge Salcedo, became an informant for the CIA and provided information that was key to the arrest of Orejuela and several other major Cali leaders.
Beyond Escobar and the Cali Cartel, the most infamous kingpin of all-time is undoubtedly Joaquin Guzman, a.k.a. El Chapo. He has built an empire in the Sinaloa Cartel that, according to a 2013 DEA report cited by Bloomberg, supplied over $3 billion worth of drugs that year to the Chicago drug market alone. He escaped from prison twice before being arrested again in January.
One of El Chapo’s rivals was Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, leader of the Gulf Cartel. The Gulfs and Sinaloas waged war with one another for several years, during which the Gulf Cartel unleashed Los Zetas, one of the most infamous death squads in Mexico. While Guillén has been arrested, Los Zetas have broken away from the Gulf Cartel and have been believed by law enforcement to be responsible for as many as 350 murders in a single year, according to The Telegraph.
Before El Chapo and Los Zetas, one of the major forces in Mexico’s illegal drug trade was Miguel Angel Felix “El Padrino” Gallardo, leader of the Guadalajara Cartel. He was one of three people identified by U.S. law enforcement as responsible for the death of Enrique Camarena, an undercover DEA agent who was tortured and stabbed to death by a screwdriver when discovered by Gallardo.
During the 80s, the Guadalajara Cartel was divided into different regions. This inadvertently played a factor in the current drug war after Gallardo’s arrest in 1989, as Gallardo’s divisions became independent cartels that fought for territorial control. The major fighters in this conflict were the aforementioned Sinaloa and Gulf Cartels, along with the Tijuana Cartel, run by the Arellano Felix family.
For many years after Gallardo’s fall, the Arellano Felix family controlled the drug trade in Tijuana and the rest of Baja. According to PBS Frontline, they have been connected to the deaths of dozens of law enforcement officials and journalists, and they have been forced to defend their turf in bloody power struggles as members of their clan were arrested and killed. Today, the Sinaloa Cartel has taken over most of Baja, though the Tijuana Cartel continues to hold some influence in the area.
If “Narcos” wants to go outside of Central and South America, they might find a good story right here in the States. Frank Lucas, the Harlem drug lord who became known for selling “Blue Magic” heroin. He was the subject of the Denzel Washington film “American Gangster,” though “Narcos” could still put their own spin on his tale.
But not every major drug lord is male. Take, for example, Jemeker Thompson, a.k.a. “The Queen Pin.” In 1980s Los Angeles, crack-cocaine was an in-demand drug, and Thompson became one of the top suppliers. Eventually, she was arrested in 1993 and served 12 years in prison, during which she had a religious awakening. She now works as an evangelical minister and has released a memoir about the life she left behind. You can watch her interview with CBS Los Angeles here.
Or perhaps Narcos could stay with Escobar’s history and tell the history of his predecessor: Griselda Blanco. In the 70s and early 80s, she jumped from New York to Bogota to Miami, becoming a major figure in Miami’s cocaine war in the 1980s. Three of her four sons were killed in Colombia, and she herself was shot in a drive-by shooting in 2012.