'Narcos' Is Moving On To A New Big Bad

by Caroline Gerdes

If you haven’t finished marathoning Narcos Season 2 on Netflix or if you have been hiding under a rock since 1993, major Narcos spoilers ahead. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Narcos has been renewed for a third and fourth season, despite one crucial fact: Pablo Escobar is dead. That’s right, Escobar was really shot by Colombian National Police in 1993. So, how does Narcos plan to move forward without Escobar as the series’ central antihero? Who will take over Escobar’s role on the series? And, who took over IRL? As a teaser trailer released by Netflix for Narcos Season 3 (that was fast) puts it, “The blow must go on.” In real life, it certainly did, with help from the Cali Cartel, which the Netflix show will chronicle starting in Season 3. Yes, we have already been introduced to the Cali Cartel on Narcos, viewers know it is helmed by the Orejuela brothers and the cartel was in cahoots with Los Pepes. But, in Season 3, the Cali Cartel takes center stage.

And, yes, the Cali Cartel is very, very real. While there is a wealth of information to know about the Cali Cartel, which will be fodder for the Netflix series, there are some facts viewers should get acquainted with before tuning into Season 3. According to The Seattle Times, business “improved noticeably” for the cartel after Escobar’s death in December 1993. The article reported that the Orejuela brothers absorbed the Medellin Cartel and controlled the international cocaine market. But, the war on drugs soon cracked down on the brothers and the Cali Cartel.

The Seattle Times reported that the DEA targeted distribution organizations and compromised smuggling routes, while the Clinton administration “pressed Colombian political leaders to arrest major traffickers.” And, the cartel took a fatal blow in 2006, when an insider betrayed the Orejuela brothers, which led to their arrest and 30 year sentences for Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela and Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela — already in their 60s.

The same Seattle Times article noted above is titled “A daring betrayal helped wipe out Cali cocaine cartel” and chronicles how the informant Jorge Salcedo became involved in the Cali Cartel and what led to his betrayal. Salcedo is so deep inside witness protection, not even his lawyer knows his identity or location.

In 2014, CNN wrote about a milestone in the “decades-long war on drugs," reporting that “the Cali Cartel, once the biggest drug trafficking organization in the world, is no more.” The article explained that after the brothers’ arrest, 28 family members agreed to sever ties with narco-trafficking and surrender their assets to the Colombian government. CNN reported the Treasury Department removed 308 people and entities from its financial sanctions list, calling the Cali Cartel defunct.

Though the Cali Cartel was proclaimed officially over, the CNN article noted that it did not mean an end for drug trafficking. Colombia has made efforts to reduce drug violence and reclaim cities controlled by gangs, but the Cali Cartel has been replaced with other criminal gangs. With news about the organization still making headlines into 2014, Narcos fans may be wondering how long the series will go? Will the drug trafficking come into modern day? I guess we’ll just have to start with new characters and politics in Season 3 and go from there.

Image: Netflix