Is Felix Gallardo in ‘Narcos: Mexico’ a Real Person?


Netflix’s ‘Narcos: Mexico’ takes us into the heart of the drug trafficking business in Mexico. It focuses on the rise of a man named Felix Gallardo, and the first season sets the course for his downfall. In the second season, we see his empire coming apart, brick by brick, until, in the end, he is left with absolutely nothing.

In a short span of time, Felix pulls off one impossible feat after another. He unites the plazas, he brings cocaine into Mexico, he cuts a deal with the CIA, he transports 70-ton of cocaine in one go. And yet, in the end, he falls. Did things really go so bad for this character or were the events tampered with to show us that bad people have to pay their due? Let’s find out.

Is Felix Gallardo a real person?

Yes, Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo is very much a real person and his rise and fall as shown in ‘Narcos: Mexico’ is pretty accurate. Liberties have been taken in portraying parts of his personal life and relationships, but the way he turned into “the boss of bosses” is not tinkered with. Starting out as a cop in Sinaloa, Gallardo’s life changed after he was introduced to Pedro Avilés Pérez while serving as the family bodyguard of the then-governor of Sinaloa, Leopoldo Sánchez Celis. Along with Rafa Quintero and Don Neto, he took charge of the cartel after Avilés was killed in police shoot out.

From here, the unification of the plazas started and Gallardo’s reign commenced. He was known for being a calm, calculated and cruel mob boss. In the end, everything falls apart for him when he orders the execution of Palma’s wife and children. In real life as well, he used a similar method to punish the insubordination of one of his men. He got his children killed and the wife’s head was cut off and sent to him in a box. He did have everyone scared, but his fall didn’t really go about as presented in the show.

Amado is shown to have gone behind his back to strike a deal with the Colombians while getting other plazas into leaving the Federation. In reality, Felix wasn’t so alone, after all. In fact, even after his arrest, he continued to manage the Federation from prison through phone calls and fax. It was when he was transferred to Altiplano maximum-security prison that he lost complete contact with his men, and that’s when the Federation fell apart.

Where is Felix Gallardo now? Is he alive and in prison?

As shown in the finale of ‘Narcos: Mexico’ Season 2, Felix Gallardo was arrested by the Mexican Federal police on April 8, 1989. He was charged with the kidnapping and murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, along with a number of other crimes. He received a 37-year prison sentence for drug trafficking, bribery, racketeering and weapons convictions. He was sent to the Altiplano maximum-security prison.

In 2017, he was finally convicted for crimes against Camarena and was sentenced a 40-year prison time, on top of the 37 that he was already serving, along with a reparation payment of about $1.17 million. His arrest opened up a window into the corrupt soul of the Mexican government. Many police officers who had been on Gallardo’s payroll were arrested, but most of them (estimated around 100) ran away.

Used to the lavish lifestyle that his drug empire afforded him, Gallardo found prison uncomfortable, to say the least. In his letters, he expressed how ill-conditioned the Altiplano prison was. Similar complaints from other prisoners resulted in their families leading a march against the inhumane conditions in the prison.

In a letter printed in the Mexico City newspapers, Gallardo’s family spoke out about the mistreatment, saying, “For more than three years, without any justification, prison authorities have kept him segregated, isolated, and without contact with other inmates, and have prevented him from participating in any physical, sports or educational activities.”

It was added that Gallardo suffered from ailments like vertigo, deafness, loss of an eye and blood circulation problems. Owing to these problems, in 2014, he was transferred to a medium-security prison in Guadalajara. He appealed to spend the rest of his prison sentence at home, however, the court did not find enough evidence to suggest that his health issues would be problematic for him to spend more time in prison.

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