On NARCOS, Los Pepes is the new terror of Escobar’s dreams. And his family is very close to being in the palm of their hands. Los Pepes is the Castano Brothers and Judy Moncada. Remember how these two wanted Agent Pena to join them in hunting Escobar? Well, he does, and now he regrets it. Tired of seeing the Colombian National Police play by the rules while Escobar does not, he figures that joining Los Pepes is his only way to capture Escobar.
With Pena’s help, Los Pepes is a vigilante group armed with police intel; there is no stopping them. They apprehend Velasco, one of Escobar’s right-hand men; torture him; and hang him in Medellin declaring who they are and who they are after: all those associated with Escobar and Escobar himself.
Maritza makes a return that I wasn’t expecting. It’s because of her that Velasco is captured. Agent Pena threatens her with an arrest if she doesn’t help him in some way. She leads them to Limon, who leads them to Velasco, and voila! Maritza is flying under the radar at the moment. Limon doesn’t suspect a thing, and now that Velasco is gone, Escobar has no idea how he was found. If Maritza is smart, she will leave Medellin for good. I feel sorry for her because she is a pawn for the good guys and the bad guys. Pena doesn’t even offer her protective custody after she helps him. She put her life on the line and got nothing in return. She needs to let go of her naivete.
Her buddy, Limon, is an upredictable character. There was a time when it seemed like he wanted out, but when he helped ambush the police, he cemented his place on Escobar’s team. If he puts 2-and-2 together, he will be able to realize that Maritza used him to get to Velasco. And when he does, I am not sure whether he will protect her. “Birds of a feather flock together.” The longer Limon is with Escobar, the more he will become like him.
At the first apprehension of Velasco, Agent Pena is beyond excited. This is the closest he has ever been to the kingpin, and all it took was him partnering with Los Pepes. However, he soon realizes that Los Pepes subscribes to the following: “the end justifies the means.” Los Pepes does not care who they kill. They want Escobar to know that there is no one safe from their tireless search. Usually, criminals have codes. “Scarface” is a great example of this. “Tony Montana” refused to kill a car full of children. This is what ultimately gains him respect. People have posters of him on their walls because he had a code.
Los Pepes is different. They claim to be working on behalf of the people of Colombia, but their motives are narrow. They are searching for Escobar’s lawyer, Fernando Duque. Agent Pena knows where he is, but he does not tell Los Pepes out of fear that they will kill Duque’s young son, who was kidnapped by his father. Duque intentionally kidnaps his son, thinking that will save him from being killed. In some world, Duque really believes that a criminal organization will find sympathy for his son. Oh, boy, was he wrong. Duque is not only a drug kingpin’s lawyer, but he’s also a deadbeat father. He scolds his son for crying while the two are hiding out in a motel. He says that he needs to man up and that all of his toys will be gone if he dies. He needs to take a few parenting lessons from Escobar, just sayin’.
Los Pepes finds out where Duque and his son are, and they kill them viciously. They leave the bodies in the trunk of a car that Agent Pena discovers. It is meant for him to discover. If Los Pepes is about the people, then there was no reason to kill the young boy. They killed him because their only goal is to intimidate Escobar. Once Escobar finds out, this will shake him up even more. It takes a certain kind of evil to kill children. Carrillo had it, and Escobar has it. That’s why he’s become so unhinged. Los Pepes is focused. They are delivering justice, as they see it, swiftly.
Agent Pena has now pissed off Los Pepes. He also realizes that police officer Trujillo tipped them off. Pena tries to guilt Trujillo about his involvement with killing a child. Trujillo barks back that Escobar has killed hundreds of people, children included, and that Pena does not “decide who lives and who dies. This is how we do it.” No truer words have been spoken about this war. No one is off-limits, and that makes Colombia the most dangerous place in the world.
Escobar has not gotten wind that Duque is dead yet, but he already sees red considering what’s happening with his family. Since that is Escobar’s soft spot, he sends them to Germany for safety. However, they are not allowed to enter the country. Agent Murphy tips off a customs agent that Tata, Escobar’s wife, is carrying a large amount of money in her purse. Tata and family are detained and are ultimately not allowed into the country. Escobar is livid. He starts using words that he himself does not abide by – “legal,” “illegal”, and “my constitutional right.” I laughed so hard listening to him calling the German Embassy in Colombia and the Attorney General to argue that his family has the right to enter Germany. It’s very interesting that when Escobar’s back is to the wall, he wants to go the legal route. This is a sign of a true psychopath. He needs all rules to work for him. I don’t even think Colonel Carrillo had him this scared. This is another threshold of fright that Escobar has not experienced. His stress level reaches a point of him passing out. He is not in control. His family could be in real danger.
Because he has no other options, he makes President Gaviria his next target. He thinks that since Gaviria did not step in to allow his family into Germany, then he supports Los Pepes. He orders his minions to bomb an area close to the Presidential Palace, and guess who is affected? Children. This proves that Escobar has no code. He only cares about his own. It seems quite looney for Escobar to even go after the President. Gaviria holds the highest office in the country, but the President has failed many times to capture Escobar. Gaviria’s power is not respected by Escobar, and this is a huge problem. Escobar is setting himself up to be the unofficial head of state if he is able to successfully get the President to officially denounce Los Pepes. Let’s hope Gaviria has something up his sleeve.
Escobar’s stand-off with Gaviria also proves that when he is close to capture, he will do stupid things, like try to actually intimidate the President. I wouldn’t be surprised if President Gaviria is intimidated enough to bring in outside countries to “fix” the problem, namely the U.S. It has been hinted that messing with the U.S. could get you in trouble aka killed. Judy Moncada has suggested putting a bullet in Pena’s head because of his disloyalty, but Don Berna reminds her that he is a DEA agent. He is untouchable. Or is he? The U.S. has ways to make the illegal look legal, so I would suggest that Judy get that idea of her mind. If Los Pepes messes with Agent Pena, they are messing with the U.S.
The U.S. has a very interesting role in this story. Why are they allowed in Colombia in the first place? What is their interest? Officially, Escobar’s drugs are running rampant in every major American city, killing hundreds of people every year. They have a moral duty to put an end to Escobar’s empire. On the other hand, Uncle Sam gets no tax benefit from the illegal smugglings. Could the latter be the real reason? I am not sure whether the next episodes will explore that, but I have a feeling it might touch on it a bit. I can smell the U.S. intervening in some way. It’s only a matter of time.
What’s interesting about this story is that I don’t root for Escobar. It’s more about viewing the way in which this real life character was able to build his empire and how he was defeated. He’s done so many things right. Building a trustworthy team is one of them. Velasco proves to be a ride-or-die confidant. And now, under immense pressure, he’s doing so many things wrong. One of them is declaring a face-off with the Colombian government. The countdown to his capture is truly beginning.
Season 2, Episodes 5-7
Narcos streams on Netflix
Jennifer Ford | Contributor