Meet the Face of Cocaine Kingpins
I only tell you this one time. Don't fuck me Tony. Don't you
ever try to fuck me.
. Boy, does he mean it...
In the underworld, there are several factions, usually based on location and ethnicity
. The Cartel
is an umbrella term for many mafia-like groups based in South America. In real life, these cartels are behind trafficking cocaine, and occasionally arming and supporting various armed groups, both revolutionaries
. Cocaine supplied to the US is refined to Crack and sold by Gang Bangers
One of the most infamous cartels was the Medellin cartel, and its leader Pablo Escobar (pictured), who ran most of the cocaine trade in the Americas during the 80's and 90's, until Escobar was taken down by the Colombian Search Bloc with the assistance of the United States. Escobar's power and reach was so big during his heyday that he was (and still is) referred to as the "world's greatest outlaw." Additionally, the financial magazine Forbes
described him as the 'world's richest criminal'.
was a popular villain in fiction during the 80's and the 90's, when the drug trade made the headlines big time.
For their adversaries and affiliates, see The Mafia
and Gang Bangers
. See also The Syndicate
. Usually the Ruthless Foreign Gangsters
in works set during the 80's, and occasionally engaged in a Mob War
with another organized crime group.
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Anime and Manga
- Black Lagoon has a Columbian drug cartel as one of the four criminal organisations in Roanapur, who were the focus of one Story Arc. Just to give you an idea of how insanely dangerous Roanapur is, they are depicted as the least threatening faction (even the Italians are more savvy).
- Scarface, the 1980s remake, under the command of the Bolivia-stationed Alejandro Sosa.
- Blow is about a white American dealer who deals with the cartels, including Pablo Escobar.
- Robert Rodriguez's Mariachi trilogy pits the protagonist against the Cartels.
- The Professional's first major job is taking out a cartel leader.
- Sanhez' cocaine business in Licence To Kill is described as an "invisible empire from Chile to Alaska".
- Traffic features a Mexican cartel as the antagonist.
- Clear And Present Danger, with Ernesto Escobedo.
- In Act of Valor, the terrorist Big Bad is being aided by a Ukrainian crime lord who controls a drug-running cartel stretching from Central America to Mexico. The SEAL team first has to rescue a CIA agent being tortured by the cartel in Central America before tracking their operations across the globe and raiding the Ukranian leader's boat. The final battle is between the combined US Navy SEAL/Mexican SOF team and the cartel soldiers and terrorists, the former of whom are trying to smuggle the latter's suicide bombers into the United States.
- Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy features the Medellin Cartel as the primary antagonists of the novel, in a conflict that escalates into something of an unofficial war between them and the United States.
- Richard Morgan's Black Man prominently features a cartel comprise of Quechua-speaking indigenous Andeans.
- Breaking Bad features the Mexican Salamanca cartel. The New Mexico branch is initially headed by Tuco Salamanca; his cousins Leonel and Marco run the main operation; all three were raised by their uncle, Don Hector. Unlike most other fictional Cartels, their primary business is crystal meth. Their relationship with Gus Fring (and therefore Walter White) is...complicated.
- The Cartel (usually either Colombian or Mexican) has made many appearances in various shows in the Law & Order franchise, usually portrayed as being untouchable due to their ruthless and violent nature. Any episode showcasing The Cartel has a high probability of ending with all witnesses either dead or too scared to testify, thus allowing the Smug Snake defendant to walk free. In one instance, on the Law & Order: SVU episode "Loss", this resulted in the show's ADA being forced to fake her own death and enter Witness Protection to avoid a contract on her life.
- On Caprica, the Ha'la'tha is a bizarre merging of this with the more Italian-oriented Mafia as well as, of all things, Ancient Greek culture.
- The characters in Entourage at one point work on a biopic of Pablo Escobar titled "Medellin".
- Season 3 of 24 prominently featured one run by Ramon and Hector Salazar, the main antagonists of the season's first half. As well as the usual drug smuggling, they're trying to diversify by planning to obtain a deadly virus, though unknown to them this is actually part of a sting operation being run by Jack and Tony.
- The Cartel—of various ethnic flavors—shows up fairly frequently on Burn Notice, in various roles: sometimes as the enemy, sometimes as the Man Behind the Man, and sometimes as an unwitting ally.
- JAG: In the second season episode "The Game of Go" a U.S. Marine is captured by a drug baron in Colombia while on joint operation with the Colombian authorities.
- Rapper Nas once adopted the stage name "Nas Escobar" as a reference to the aforementioned Pablo.
- One of the traditional factions in the Grand Theft Auto series since III.
- Call of Juarez: The Cartel. Guess what it's about.
- Hitman features these as enemies at different points. One mission is a Shout Out to Scarface.
- In Scarface: The World is Yours, Tony breaks the cartel's hold on Miami and takes Sosa down.
- While the Colombian Cartel is a separate group, they are connected with one of the rival gangs from Saints Row called Los Carnales
- Freelancer: The Outcasts are this trope 'IN SPACE'.
- Raul Menendez, the Big Bad of Call Of Duty Black Ops 2, started off as a drug runner who controlled a very powerful cartel in Guatemala in the 1980's. He used the money he gained from that operation to finance other operations around the world, up until the CIA tried to kill him, and in the process killed his blind, crippled sister. That led him to use the money invested in his cartel to set up the Cordis Die network, which became a full-on N.G.O. Superpower capable of threatening the entire First World.
- Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel has you fighting one such Mexican cartel.
- In Saints Row 2 one of the enemy gangs is the Sons of Samedi. A Haitian drug cartel mostly made up of college students and hippies. They embrace reggae, 420, and Haitian voodoo culture and most of their business is selling their trademark drug: "Loa Dust."
- In The Boondocks, one of Riley's many "street names" is Riley Escobar.
- Mexico has many, but perhaps the most infamous cartel is Los Zetas. Their founders were Mexican special forces who went rogue and started doing work for the Gulf Cartel. Nowadays, they are an autonomous cartel as well as enemies of the Gulf Cartel, and many of their founding members are either arrested or dead, meaning they aren't as deadly as they used to be, but they are still known for their brutality. Just how feared are these guys? Well, one day, they threatened to kill the inhabitants of the small city Ciudad Mier. All 4,000 inhabitants left the town, leaving it completely abandoned.
- Usually Mexican Cartels are business-like and exude a Pragmatic Villainy aura: they usually look for profit and if you don't mess with them, they don't mess with you.note Los Zetas took this to extreme levels: running extortions against anyone regardless of economic level or profit, attacking and killing civilians for little to no reason, killing the entire family of an enemy instead of only the enemy, kidnapping and killing horribly the victims even when the ransom is paid, among other atrocities to a nationwide extent. And we have yet to get to the nasty parts.
- And that one of the reason the U.S. government are thinking too many times to capture or kill their leaders, Osama Bin Laden-style: They're Genre Savvy enough to attack American interests and citizens in Mexico, knowing that no "we-don't-deal-with-terrorists" policy will prevent a U.S. public outcry, not to mention what they can do with any American soldier they could capture in their hands, and the political aftermath and fallout between Mexico and the U.S. due to that.