Narcos: Mexico amplifies the lives of the kingpins and their actions. But while the Netflix drama may be entertaining, for some, it hits too close to home.
Luis Gerardo Méndez joined the third and final season of the crime series, taking on his “most complex” role yet and questioning his own integrity in the process. The actor portrays Victor Tapia, a cop from border town Ciudad Juarez who is faced with a moral dilemma when asked to look into the case of a missing girl. As he begins to investigate, he discovers a series of ongoing and brutal killings of many women. Tapia’s storyline explores the beginnings of femicide in Mexico in the ’90s.
“It’s been probably one of the most complex characters I’ve ever done, which was very exciting in the beginning because of all the work that I needed to do, not just the physical change of putting on all the weight for it, but also answering all these questions about, What is integrity?” Gerardo Méndez tells ET. “I started asking myself, Luis, what is integrity for me. And then starting to understand, what is integrity for this cop in Ciudad Juarez in the ’90s, discovering this huge problem of all these femicides, which by the way is still the biggest problem in Mexico right now.”
At least 10 women get killed in Mexico every day, Gerardo Méndez states, citing a recent Amnesty International report confirming the statistics in 2021. “That started there in Ciudad Juarez because it was a huge territory for drug trafficking,” he says. “So this guy is between those two lines, he’s a cop working with the drug cartels at the beginning and then he decides to take the right path. But at the same time, he has no idea the forces he’s fighting against. Honestly, we still don’t know how complex this problem is. I feel pretty grateful to be able to put that story out there because I think it’s incredibly relevant and incredibly painful.”
Just like in the series, the families of these victims are often forced to investigate their own homicides, not fully being able to trust law enforcement. For Gerardo Méndez, this situation was all too familiar.
“What I think is fascinating about Narcos, especially this season, is all this news we saw as kids growing up in the ’90s,” he recalls. “Now this is an opportunity to really see what happened, like [Luis Donaldo] Colosio [Murrieta], el Cardenal Posadas Ocampo, the Christine, this nightclub at the beach, we grew up watching this news but we didn’t know what was actually happening and when you see the show, you get the whole enchilada, like the full perspective of the politics, social, economic, ambitions, working to create this horrible, perfect storm in the ’90s.”
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