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“You cut the head off of a snake and three more appear. In this case, four. And their teeth are sharper.” That is how star Pedro Pascal, who plays DEA agent Javier Pena, describes the new villains of Narcos.
When the third season of the drug cartel series releases on Friday, Narcos is unleashing the Cali cartel onto the Netflix audience. The cartel, which took over the vacant Pablo Escobar throne as public enemy no. 1 in 1990s Colombia, was responsible for 80 percent of the world’s cocaine at the height of its reign. Viewers will meet the four bosses, the “gentlemen” and godfathers of Cali: The Rodriguez brothers Gilberto (Damian Alcazar) and Miguel (Francisco Denis), Pacho Herrera (Alberto Ammann) and Narcos newcomer Chepe Santacruz Londono (Pepe Rapazote).
Pena (Pascal) returns to the war on drugs, but gone is his partner Steve Murphy (played by Boyd Holbrook) and two new DEA agents arrive in his place. But perhaps the most fascinating character of them all is Jorge Salcedo, the Cali insider who brought down the cartel. An informant in the history books, but a rat to everyone he once knew.
Essentially, Narcos sounds like an entirely new show. But according to showrunner Eric Newman, it’s a “schematic sequel” in the post-Escobar world, the next new chapter in the revolving story of narco kingpins that continues up until today.
“A guy like Escobar was going to be replaced, in some ways, by a more pervasive and more insidious organization like Cali, that had a corruptive influence that went way beyond the outlaw,” Newman has told THR of Cali. “They bought the presidency of Colombia in 1994. They were insiders, and it’s very much a response to the level of violence that the hunt for Escobar brought to Colombia. We’re inheriting an administration in government and populous in Colombia that were tired of the violence and that changed the way they were going to wage the war, so it’s a more complicated environment in ways. It’s difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys.”
Below in a chat with THR, Newman details the research that went into telling Cali’s lesser-known but equally fascinating story, explains why Murphy’s Narcos run came to an end and teases what’s in store when the “Cali KGB” takes over.
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