Univision acquired the U.S. rights to Spanish-language series, The Drug Baron (El Varon de la Droga), based on the life of recently arrested Mexican drug dealer Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzman.
Reported exclusively by The Hollywood Reporter, the series will air later this year on UniMás. A former drug cartel member, who has since become a best-selling author and screenwriter in Latin America, wrote the series. Univision acquired a minimum of 60 episodes to air on UniMás, a channel that reaches almost 90 percent of U.S. homes where Spanish is the primary language.
Andres Lopez began writing the series while in a Miami prison serving time for drug trafficking. He was released after 20 months in 2004 and had the manuscript for his first book a best-seller, The Cartel of Snitches (El Cartel de los Sapos).
It was later adapted into a successful movie and hit TV series. Critics praised the two for their realism and insider perspective with the drug cartel. Another series he penned was Mafia Dolls (Las Munecas de la Mafia), it had successful runs in Latin America and Spanish language TV in the U.S.
“This new series promises to further explore the complicated and extremely dangerous life of a major drug lord, beyond just the ‘business’ to the toll it takes on his personal life, and those around him,” Univision said in an announcement.
The Drug Baron (El Varon de la Droga) will focus on the real life of Guzman, a Mexican drug lord and head of the Sinaloa Cartel. Guzman was recently arrested on February 22 at the Sinaloa resort of Mazatlan. Guzman had been on the run for almost 13 years after he escaped from a high-security jail. He was at the top of many most wanted lists. Forbes has referred to Guzman as “the world’s most powerful drug traffickers” and on the list for the “wealthiest and most powerful people in the world.” His cartel is responsible for a quarter of illegal drugs entering the U.S. The cartel has estimated revenue of $3 billion a year. Guzman’s arrest was confirmed on twitter by President Enrique Peña Nieto. The Chicago Crime Commission listed Guzman as the first public enemy number one since Al Capone.
“I’m extremely excited to see ‘El Varón de la Droga‘ being brought to the screen on UniMas,” said Lopez. “Their programming strategy of offering cutting-edge, alternative drama fits perfectly with the ‘ripped-from-the-headlines’ timeliness of my latest work.”
Univision Network’s president of programming and content Alberto Ciurana said the new series “speaks to our commitment to delivering the best alternative programming in the U.S… And by having Andres on board as screenwriter, we will be able to offer our audience an unprecedented experience in terms of authenticity and realism.”