Walt From 'Narcos: Mexico' Is Based On The Real DEA Agents Who Took Down Gallardo
Although Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo (Diego Luna) and his men killed Kiki Camarena (Michael Peña) at the tail-end of Narcos: Mexico Season 1, there's a new proverbial sheriff in town, hoping to avenge the DEA agent's death. Scoot McNairy plays Walt Breslin in Narcos: Mexico this season, who is dispatched to investigate Camarena's brutal murder after being revealed as the series narrator in the Season 1 finale. And while McNairy told Collider in an interview that his character is "loosely based on a real character," Walt is largely fictional.
But although Walt is a composite character, one very real member of Operation Leyenda was a DEA agent named Hector Berrellez, who was recruited to run the mission in January 1989, according to Charles Bowden and Molly Molloy's three-part story in the Medium publication Matter. While Berrellez was seemingly higher up the food chain than McNairy's character, their goal was the same: to find out who had killed Kiki Camarena in February 1985.
Berrellez was a 42-year-old, former homicide cop when he was put in charge of Operation Leyenda, according to LA Weekly. He had already worked undercover and was fluent in Spanish, so his appointment seemed only natural. Berrellez and Camarena never met, per Medium, but they would speak on the phone about different cases prior to Kiki's murder. The agent was given $3 million a year and a team of 20 agents, the article detailed, and was directed to find witnesses in Camarena's killing room.
Ernesto "Don Neto" Fonseca (played by Joaquín Cosio), Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo (Diego Luna), and Rafael Caro Quintero (Tenoch Huerta) were all convicted and imprisoned for their involvement in Camarena's death, per the BBC (in 2013, Quintero was released from prison). Most notably, Gallardo was captured in April 1989, per the New York Times, and is still serving his sentence. For theatrical reasons, it appears as though Season 2 will truncate the timeline between Kiki's murder and Gallardo's capture.
However, Berrellez claims that the CIA was also involved in his colleague's death. "The whole case stinks, and if you don't step away you'll stink, too," the former DEA agent recalled one of his witnesses telling him, per LA Weekly. "Your own government killed Camarena." Indeed, a Cuban CIA agent named Felix Rodríguez was allegedly present when Kiki was kidnapped and tortured, per the same report. According to Matter, Rodríguez has denied any involvement in Camarena's murder.
However, it's unclear whether Narcos: Mexico Season 2 will delve into these unconfirmed CIA rumors or not. In an interview with the site MEAWW, both Berrellez and Phil Jordan — the former director of DEA's El Paso Intelligence Center — said that there were many factual inconsistencies in the Netflix series, claiming that Kiki wasn't involved with the Búfalo Marijuana fields, which audiences saw in Season 1.
As for McNairy's character arc this season, the Halt and Catch Fire actor told Collider in the same interview that he was already interested in Narcos going into it. "I didn't really want it to be a cat-and-mouse thing that Narcos has already done, where the DEA catches the guy, after constantly chasing him," McNairy said. "I wanted to stir that up." He continued, saying that his character's arc in Season 2 is not "such a cat-and-mouse chase."
But while McNairy's character is not based on Hector Berrellez so much as a composite of other DEA agents, one thing's for certain: Walt Breslin is out for blood.