TV & Movies

The Narcos: Mexico Cast Looks Like Mirror Images Of Their Real-Life Counterparts

The casting director deserves a round of applause.

by Rebecca Patton and Candace Cordelia Smith
Originally Published: 
Teresa Ruiz as Isabella Bautista and Mayra Hermosillo as Enedina Arellano Félix in 'Narcos: Mexico' ...
Courtesy of Netflix

Although most of the characters in Narcos: Mexico are based on real people, information — and photos — of these real-life drug lords is few and far between. Fortunately, there are a few photos of the people who inspired the Narcos: Mexico characters to give audiences some historical context when Season 3 premieres on Friday, Nov. 5.

The central villain in Narcos: Mexico so far has been Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo (Diego Luna), who tortured and murdered Kiki Camarena at the tail-end of Season 1. Félix Gallardo (pictured here) was ultimately apprehended in April 1989, per the New York Times, and is still serving time in prison. In August 2021, the drug lord gave his first interview since his conviction, revealing his failing health while also claiming his innocence. In Season 2 of Narcos: Mexico, viewers witnessed Félix Gallardo sentenced to prison.

The show’s third and final season introduces some changes, including the debut of Grammy winner Bad Bunny, who is credited as Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio. He portrays “rich-kid-turned-hitman” and Narco Juniors member Arturo “Kitty” Paez. Showrunner Carlo Bernard told Entertainment Weekly that Bad Bunny is “very watchable.” “You’re innately drawn to him,” Bernard added.

Scoot McNairy, who joined the cast in Season 2 as Walt Breslin, also returns in Season 3. McNairy’s character is based on a composite of DEA agents investigating Camarena's death. (One of the most notable real-life agents on the case was Hector Berrellez, who was recruited to run Operation Leyenda in January 1989, according to LA Weekly.)

Here are some of the other Narcos: Mexico cast members you may remember, along with their real-life inspirations.

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán (played by Alejandro Edda)

ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images//Courtesy of Netflix

El Chapo is considered the most infamous Sinaloa cartel member — eclipsing his former boss, Félix Gallardo — and has escaped prison several times. In February 2019, El Chapo was ultimately sentenced to life in prison without parole, according to Vice, and is now imprisoned in Florence, Colorado. In October 2020, lawyer Marc Fernich appealed to overturn El Chapo’s conviction and life sentence in front of judges from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Per Vice, Fernich believed El Chapo “did not receive a fair trial.”

Isabella Bautista, based on Sandra Ávila Beltrán (played by Teresa Ruiz)

Carlos Somonte/Netflix

Although Isabella Bautista is a fictional character, she is likely based on Sandra Ávila Beltrán, who was a key Narcos player. She was given the moniker Queen of the Pacific and was imprisoned for money laundering in 2007, per the Guardian, before being released in 2015. (The USA series Queen of the South may very well be based on her, as the article speculated.) Isabella’s jet black hair and piercing stare are the mirror image of Beltrán’s, especially at the age of 19, as pictured here.

Like Beltrán, Isabella was incarcerated, as shown in Season 2 of Narcos: Mexico. But what happens next for the socialite and drug trafficker in Season 3 is anyone’s guess. While talking about Isabella’s fate, actor Teresa Ruiz said, “I think she’s just going to continue to be difficult until things get easier.”

Pablo Acosta Villarreal (played by Gerardo Taracena)

Courtesy of Netflix

Journalist Terrence Poppa wrote the 1990 book Drug Lord: A True Story: The Life and Death of a Mexican Kingpin, which centers on Pablo Acosta Villarreal. According to the author's site, Acosta Villarreal was business partners with Amado Carrillo Fuentes and smuggled cocaine across the U.S.-Mexico border. As seen in Narcos: Mexico, Acosta Villarreal and horseback tour guide Mimi Webb Miller dated until his death in 1987. Webb Miller ran off to California thereafter.

Amado Carrillo Fuentes (played by José María Yazpik)

Joe Raedle/Hulton Archive/Getty Images//Courtesy of Netflix

In July 1997, the Washington Post reported Carrillo Fuentes died during plastic surgery. The so-called “Lord of the Skies” was under the knife for eight hours in a Santa Monica hospital, per the article, in order to change his appearance. “Amado Carrillo Fuentes was arguably the most powerful drug trafficker in Mexico,” DEA Administrator Thomas A. Constantine told the Post. “The disruption his death will cause among Mexican drug trafficking organizations will be significant.”

Mimi Webb Miller (played by Sosie Bacon)

Courtesy of Netflix

Webb Miller (pictured here) is originally from Texas, per a 2014 New York Times article, but by the ’70s, she was leading horseback riding tours in Big Bend National Park on the border of northern Chihuahua and western Texas. Eventually, Webb Miller befriended Acosta and soon became romantically involved with him. “He was kind of like [Henry] Kissinger,” she said of the drug lord. “Not the handsomest man I’d ever met, but a strong guy with a lot of charisma.”

After he died in ’87, the article detailed, she fled the region. As of 2021, Webb Miller owns a 3,000-acre ranch in Mexico, works as a casting director for commercials in Los Angeles, and owns a hotel in Terlingua, Texas. She’s also friends with actor Sosie Bacon, who played Webb Miller in Season 2 of Narcos: Mexico.

Benjamín Arellano Félix (played by Alfonso Dosal)

Getty Images/Getty Images News/Getty Images//Courtesy of Netflix

Benjamín Arellano Félix is Félix Gallardo’s nephew, per the Guardian, and he and his brother Ramón Arellano Félix took over the business when their uncle went to jail in ’89. He was apprehended by Mexican authorities in 2002, and in 2012, Benjamín pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy to launder money, per the Daily Mail, receiving a 25-year sentence.

Hélmer "Pacho" Herrera (played by Alberto Ammann)

Courtesy of Netflix

Hélmer “Pacho” Herrera was killed in a Colombian prison in November 1998, per the Washington Post, after being sentenced to a little over six years for drug trafficking. Audiences also saw this character in the original Narcos series, where they learned Herrera was gay. Herrera (pictured here and portrayed by Argentine actor Alberto Ammann) is the only character to have appeared in every season of Narcos and Narcos: Mexico.

Enedina Arellano Félix (played by Mayra Hermosillo)

Courtesy of Netflix

Sister to the Arellano Félix brothers, Enedina rose through the ranks and became perhaps the first female cartel leader, according to Time. She began money laundering in the 2000s, the article reported, and has even inspired a song: “La Jefa de Tijuana.” In 2015, Enedina (pictured here) was the head of the Tijuana Cartel, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

As of 2020, she was reportedly still running the infamous cartel. Narcos: Mexico actor Mayra Hermosillo, who returns as Enedina in Season 3, said fans could expect to see her “try to get out of the business, falling in love, and having this idea of [taking] care of her family” during the final season. As seen here in a picture featuring Enedina, both she and Mayra have a pleasant smile and conservative fashion sense with a touch of glam.

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