Narcos: Mexico was destined to be the fourth series of the original Narcos which is airing on Netflix, but it was instead turned into a spin-off series. The spin-off is set during a time when Mexican drug traffickers were finding their feet as cannabis growers and dealers, just starting to establish their trade. The series focuses on the rise of the Guadalajara Cartel, while DEA agent Kiki Camarena (played by Michael Peña) moves with his family to Mexico to take on a new job.
In the first series of Narcos: Mexico Rafa (Tenoch Huerta) orders for Kiki to be kidnapped, and he is later interrogated and tortured by the cartel.
Rafa, who would then be the target of a manhunt, flees the country and heads to Costa Rica before the DEA has a chance to find him.
But after a tip-off explaining where Rafa is hiding, the DEA arrest him and find out information about where Kiki is being kept.
Sadly, the DEA agents find Kiki’s body near a ranch, and in the second series, those responsible for Kiki’s death get their comeuppance.
Delgado, a physician who helped torture Kiki by keeping him awake with adrenaline, is kidnapped and interrogated for more information about Kiki’s death.
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Was Kiki Camarena really kidnapped and tortured?
Enrique S “Kiki” Camarena Salazar was a real American undercover agent for the DEA, up until he died aged just 37 in February 1985.
He was also abducted, tortured and murdered while on an assignment in Mexico, where he had transferred to from his home in California.
The year before his death hundreds of Mexican soldiers destroyed a huge marijuana plantation in Chihuahua, and Camarena was suspected of giving the tip-off about the plantation.
He was abducted by corrupt Mexican officials who were then working for the biggest drug traffickers in Mexico.
Over the course of about 30 hours, he was tortured and murdered, having been injected with drugs to keep him awake during the process.
His body was found in a rural area a month after he was kidnapped.
Narcos showrunner Eric Newman spoke to Entertainment Weekly about which parts of the DEA agent’s story were true, and what they adapted.
Newman confirms he really did move with his family to Mexico, he exposed the marijuana field and he was kidnapped and tortured by corrupt police officials.
He was asked whether Camarena really went undercover to work on the field and find out more about it before exposing it.
Newman said: “He did visit the field undercover – less as a migrant worker than as an interested party.
“Unfortunately, his partner passed away recently so I wasn’t able to get the exact details on how he pulled it off.
“But he had contacts, he was posing as a marijuana buyer so he was able to go check it out. We took license as to how he got there.”
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In terms of his family life, there were a few changes made for the sake of production, including the number of children he had.
Newman said: “He had three children and we gave him two because kids are so hard to work with. In the same way, we decided to keep Juan Pablo Escobar a child even though he did grow up into a sort of awful teenager, we kept him a kid because he was a child, so we forgive him for following his father – how could he not?
“It would take a stronger man than me to break from your dad who says we’re doing exactly what we should be doing.”
He knew some fans would have already known about Kiki’s fate but felt it did not ruin the experience for them.
He said: “I assume there are segments of the audience who have never read a newspaper who will go into this thinking, ‘I like that guy I hope nothing bad happens to him.’
“There are others who know this is the story of Kiki and something bad is going to happen to him.
“I remember saying, ‘Who’s going to want to watch a movie about ship sinking when everybody knows it’s going to sink?’
“You can know that something bad is going to happen — in fact, you can be certain — and still be on the edge of your seat.”
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The real Cemarena held a number of awards while he was working for the DEA, and posthumously received the Administrator’s Award of Honor, the highest award possible.
His name has been immortalised across his home town of California, where there is a school, library and street named after him.
In 2004 his wife, Mika, served on the board of directors for the Enrique S. Camarena Foundation which was set up in his memory.
The foundation highlighted the commitment to tackle the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drug violations.
Narcos: Mexico is available to watch on Netflix now
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