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An unlikely authority has emerged in the wake of the shooting death in Mexico of a location manager scouting for season four of Narcos: the brother of Pablo Escobar, the notorious Colombian drug kingpin whose rise and fall are dramatized by the Netflix series.
Roberto De Jesus Escobar Gaviria, 71, is calling on the network to make changes to its security protocol.
Throughout the 1980s, Gaviria was the lead accountant for his brother’s empire, at one point known as the “chief of the hitmen” for the deadly Medellin cartel. He was arrested in 1993 and put in prison, where a letter bomb rendered him partially blind and deaf, and was released 10 years later.
In 2014, he founded Escobar Inc. and registered “successor-in-interest rights” for his brother in California. On July 1, 2016, he sent a letter to Netflix demanding $1 billion for unauthorized usage of content.
Gaviria spoke to The Hollywood Reporter from his home in Colombia about the Narcos set death and his ongoing dispute with Netflix.
As former “hitman chief” for your brother, what further security measures do you think could be taken to protect the Narcos crew?
You have to eliminate all threats. When I was walking in the jungle one day, I had a bag with $2 million in $100 bills. The army was searching for me and Pablo at this time. Suddenly, we are being shot at.
Both me and Pablo, along with a few security people, start running towards a small channel of water, we swim away. This was all done without guns.
If you have the intellect, you don’t need to use weapons. If not, you have to. In this case, Netflix should provide hitmen to their people as security.
Your brother’s character was killed at the end of season two. What did the show get right or wrong about how that was depicted?
I don’t discuss my brother’s death. Some people say he is dead. That is all I know. To me he is still alive and my brother.
Are Colombia and Mexico too dangerous for Hollywood to use as shooting locations?
I don’t want Netflix or any other film production company to film any movies in Medellin or Colombia that relates to me or my brother Pablo without authorization from Escobar Inc. It is very dangerous. Especially without our blessing. This is my country.
You demanded $1 billion from Netflix last year for using your brother’s likeness and story without the family’s permission. Are you taking further legal steps?
Netflix are scared. They sent us a long letter to threaten us. Right now, we are in discussions with them through our attorneys Browne George Ross LLP to obtain our $1 billion payment. If we don’t receive it, we will close their little show.
You see, we own all the trademarks to all of our names and also for the Narcos brand. I don’t play around with these people in Silicon Valley. They have their phones and nice products. But they don’t know life and would never dare to survive in the jungle of Medellin or Colombia. I have done that.
Their mothers should have left them in the womb. That is what we tell people like this if they come to Colombia.
How many people do you think you were responsible for killing, both directly and indirectly, while in the service of your brother?
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Portia de Rossi
James Gordon Meek