Gangs of Galicia: Is Naranjo Based on a Real Cop?

Gangs of Galicia,’ a Spanish Netflix crime show, centers around a grieving daughter’s attempts at felling an organized crime family from Galicia’s Cambados, involved in a long-standing drug trafficking ring. Rather than going after the Padins directly, lawyer Ana Gonzalez Soriano takes a more stealthy route by carving a place for herself as the attorney to the cartel’s head, Daniel, to extract sensitive information. However, the same lands her in a tricky situation once her relationship with Daniel— the son of the man Ana is preying on— turns more intimate than expected. Even so, the Padins’ fate remains precarious as other forces move against them, planning their downfall.

Naranjo, the lead detective working towards arresting the Padin crime family, presents the most pressing of such threats to Daniel and his gang. Therefore, given the show’s pre-existing connections to Spain’s real-life criminal world, the cop’s relation to reality easily comes into question.

Naranjo’s Disconnect From Real-Life

While ‘Gangs of Galicia’ mines significant inspiration from a real-life event in Spain— and specifically— Galicia’s criminal history, a considerable amount of the storylines explored within the show remain fictitious. The story’s base premise of a Galician drug lord’s empire and his presumed assassination of an old rival retains ties to the real-life story of Manuel Charlín Gama and Manuel Baúlo, a gang member who betrayed the former man. However, in the show, Charlin’s counterpart, Jose Padin, earns a prison sentence that keeps him contained well into the contemporary times. Therefore, his sole heir, Daniel, ends up inheriting the family business, carrying out his father’s orders in the outside world.

Consequently, Detective Naranjo finds the space to enter the narrative as the lead detective, vying for Daniel’s arrest, which would put a crucial stop to the Padin cartel. As a result, much of the cop’s characterization and narrative relevance revolves around his single-minded focus on arresting Daniel, whose involvement is sustaining the Padin crime family well after the imprisonment of their patriarch. In real life, Charlín, the notorious drug lord from Galicia who smuggled various drugs into Spain, was arrested and imprisoned in 1995. As such, after the patriarch’s imprisonment, multiple of his children ended up gaining leading roles in Los Charlines’ criminal activities.

Thus, unlike the show, real life saw numerous Charlín heirs, including Josefa Charlín Pomares, alongside Melchor, María Teresa, Óscar, and Adelaida, carrying out criminal operations. Their central crimes retained relation to money laundering and drug trafficking that landed them on the police’s radar. For the same reason, Daniel and Naranjo’s concentrated on-screen rivalry becomes a fictitious element within the show. In reality, numerous police operations were involved in the pursuit of the various sects of Los Charlines’ criminality. As such, no singular detective was ever credited for their downfall, robbing Naranjo of a real-life counterpart.

The Reality of Los Charlines’ Contemporary Run-ins with Law Enforcement

A significant amount of Daniel’s successful inheritance of his father’s drug cartel swerves from the reality of the Charlin crime family and their involvement in the crime world since the 90s. Yet, since the family never entirely removed themselves from criminality, they continued to garner public attention due to their various detentions by law enforcement. Among the Galicia drug lord’s successors, Josefa Charlín Pomares saw particular scrutiny after her 2001 extradition from Portugal due to possession of cocaine.

Likewise, the family remained in the news due to their various money laundering and tax evasion schemes. While Naranjo’s storyline significantly revolves around his intentions to arrest the Padins for their drug trafficking business, he also targets them for their involvement in financial crimes. The same holds a parallel to the contemporary reality of the Charlin family, wherein they pay additional attention to financial crimes. In fact, in August 2018, Charlin and his kids were accused of allegedly laundering 12 million euros from drug trafficking.

Ultimately, Naranjo’s storyline equips the show with a convenient storytelling trope of cops vs. robbers by pitching the character directly against Daniel. Consequently, the character himself doesn’t hold any real-life counterpart. Still, his dedicated investigation into the Padins allows for parallels to be drawn between the fictional crime family and the real-life Los Charlines’ continued existence on the wrong side of the law.

Read More: Gangs of Galicia: Inspired by a True Spanish Mafia Story