Netflix's 'Narcos': The Drug Trade Then And Now

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A new Netflix series “Narcos” takes on the story of the rise of the “King of Cocaine” — Pablo Escobar. We’ll look at drug trafficking then and now.

Actor Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar, in the Netflix Original Series "Narcos." (Daniel Daza/Netflix via AP)
Actor Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar, in the Netflix Original Series "Narcos." (Daniel Daza/Netflix via AP)

The illegal drug news these days is all about "El Chapo" in Mexico, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. His prison break. His violent goons. His power, even on the run. In the 1980s, that kind of reporting was all about the then "King of Cocaine" Pablo Escobar, of Colombia. From his stronghold in Medellín, Escobar broke open the massive cocaine trade with the U.S. First into Miami, and then all over. It was the tidal wave that sparked the "war on drugs." A new Netflix drama tells the story. Its Brazilian director José Padilha is with us. This hour on On Point: "Narcos," and the drug trade then and now.
- Tom Ashbrook
Here's a trailer of the series:


José Padilha, Brazilian film director, producer and screenwriter who created the Netflix series, "Narcos." He also directed "Elite Squad," "Elite Squad: The Enemy Within" and the 2014 remake of "RoboCop."

Sam Quinones, a freelance journalist who reported for the Los Angeles Times from 2004 to 2014. He is the author of "Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic" and "Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration." (@samquinones7)

From Tom's Reading List

Slate: Netflix’s Narcos Is Harrowing, Surreal, And Exactly The Portrayal Of The Drug War We Needed - "What 'Narcos' might call magical realism is actually an old storytelling tradition: 'narco cinema,' a Latin American genre comprised entirely of B-movies about the drug trade. 'Narco cinema' hinges on a deep romanticization of the power and violence of drug lords. It turns cops into villains, drug lords into heroes, and beauty queens into narcos.  Underneath all the excessive violence and sex, though, it deftly exposes the weaknesses and corruption of government systems."

The Guardian: I Shot Pablo Escobar: Narcos' José Padilha On His New TV Series - "There’s a telling moment early in the first episode of 'Narcos,' a gripping new Netflix drama about the hunt for Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Escobar is in a convoy of trucks driving contraband across a bridge towards the border when he is stopped by a company of military police — a stop he was not expecting, given that he claimed to have paid off every cop in Medellin. Escobar, played with a mix of charisma and quiet menace by Brazilian actor Wagner Moura, calmly steps from the cab, reveals the illicit cargo being carried in the trucks, and then addresses each of the soldiers by name, intimidating them by revealing how much he knows about their families, before grandly announcing: 'I am Pablo Escobar Gaviria and one day I’m going to be president of the Republic of Colombia.'"

Boston Globe: Netflix’s Electrifying ‘Narcos’ And The War On Drugs - "So what is 'Narcos,' an electrifying new Netflix series about drug trafficking in the 1980s? It’s definitely a 'Wire' type show, as it delivers a far-reaching look at how cocaine use and Pablo Escobar rose to prominence, and how DEA agents labored to end them both."

This program aired on September 2, 2015.


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