A Narcos location scout named Carlos Muñoz Portal was murdered in Mexico
We've all heard of the infamous Mexican cartels. Born of the drug war and the massive smuggling operations taking place on the US border, these criminal enterprises capture the mind of fiction and reportage alike. Drugs that cross the US-Mexico border fuel the demand for an illegal supply. If drugs aren't being sold legally, some criminals will always step in to satisfy the gap.
TV shows like Netflix's Narcos and Breaking Bad have gotten huge by examining this new culture, this new industry, and American audiences have always loved gangster stories. But what happens when fiction becomes too real? What happens when the portrayal of the cartel bleeds into reality, and ends up destroying lives?
Carlos Muñoz Portal, a location scout for Netflix's Narcos, was murdered at the young age of 37 while in Mexico working for the show. His untimely death is a horrible reminder that the show is not fantasy - the people it portrays are dangerous and courageous men like Carlos who brave the cartels to bring us television do not get the credit they deserve.
Carlos Muñoz Portal was discovered in a car ton apart by bullet holes, on the border and outskirts of Hidalgo, Mexico's most dangerous city. Hidalgo has the highest rate of murders in Mexico, so cartel activity is at an all-time high. The murderers have not been identified, but they seem to be professionals, having killed Portal in a remote location in what is presumably his vehicle.
This senseless act of violence has disturbed the case and crew of the show, and stolen away a young man's life. The odds of there being justice for his murder are low. There are no witnesses to the crime.
The murder has also put the future of the season in flux. Production could move to Columbia, which would result in the loss of hundreds of jobs for Mexicans that would be created through filming. If the choice parts of Mexico are just too dangerous to scout locations for, the show can't be blamed for re-locating.
Still, it casts a shadow over the whole thing, and shows how difficult it is to bring cartel members to justice. Carlos Muñoz Portal will be remembered as an extremely talented scouter, having found locations for films like "Sicario", "Spectre", "Apocalypto" and "Fast & Furious". He was clearly an expert in finding locations in South and Latin America, and helped create some extremely successful films and contributed to massive franchises.
Netflix issued a brief statement: “We are aware of the passing of Carlos Muñoz Portal, a well-respected location scout, and send our condolences to his family. The facts surrounding his death are still unknown as authorities continue to investigate."
Season 4, the season that Portal was scouting for, was expected to chronicle the legendary and vicious Juarez cartel in Mexico. Season 3, which is currently airing, has focused on Columbian cartels. Is it worth it? Perhaps we have to ask ourselves - at what cost is fiction worth to human life? Perhaps the show should compromise and not send its crew out into extremely dangerous areas.