‘Narcos’ agents talk Netflix series

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By Taylor InmanStaff writer and Sydni AndersonContributing writer

“Tonight is going to be the real story of Pablo Escobar,” former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Javier Peña said. “We’re going to talk about what actually happened.”

Netflix’s new hit series, “Narcos,” shows the struggle of taking down Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. The two American DEA agents in the show are real, and they addressed a crowd in the Curris Center Ballroom Monday night.

Steve Murphy and Javier Peña were the American DEA agents that helped take down Escobar and the Medellín Cartel in Colombia. The two men now share their story with the world; not just through Netflix or on the National Geographic special “Facing Escobar,” but through presentations to colleges and communities around the globe.

Peña said they do it to make sure people remember the horror that was Escobar’s narcoterrorism.

“It was real. It’s history,” Peña said. “We want people to remember the history; we learn from history.”

Peña and Murphy showed the audience a timeline of the events that happened with Escobar and his cartel. The agents’ lives were in real danger, and even though the show has some exaggerations, Murphy said they portrayed the danger correctly.

“The show can be gory at times, but they got that right,” Murphy said. “There was a lot of violence and fear that surrounded this cartel.”

Murphy said that the bounty Escobar put out for Colombian police officers was $100, but for himself and Peña, the bounty was $300,000 each.

“It was sad,” Murphy said. “That’s how cheap a Colombian police officer’s life was.”

“Narcos” has been talked about since its release in 2015, and students at Murray State jumped at the chance to meet Peña and Murphy to hear the real story.

Darius Hill,  senior from Florence, Kentucky, said he just finished the series.

“It was perfect timing,” Hill said. “I wanted to come see the real story of it.

Anna Eckard, freshman from Madisonville, Kentucky, said she hoped to see how the agents came out the other end unscathed.

“I wanted to see the real people,” Eckard said. “I wanted to hear the stories about what they did, and how they were able to get through all of that without going crazy.”

Murphy and Peña were careful about who told their story. They were actually approached several times by different producers before they decided to let Netflix tell their story to the whole world.

“We were totally shocked that there was any interest in this whatsoever and had been approached by many other producers,” Murphy said. “We were going to turn these guys down, too. It’s a good thing we didn’t.” 

The partners said they had one condition for the team at Netflix that was going to produce “Narcos.”

“We don’t do anything independent from each other – we’ve been partners since 1989,” Murphy said. “Our main concern is that you don’t do anything to glorify Pablo Escobar because he’s such an evil person.”

Murphy and Peña said Netflix has lived up to their promise. And recently their story has taken them all over the world, but their next step is writing a book, which they said will be released hopefully sometime next spring. But until then, they will keep traveling and telling what they remember to be the true story of “Narcos” and Escobar’s narcoterrorism.