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The US crime drama, which shows notorious kingpin Pablo Escobar and his Medellín cartel’s rise to power, has proved hugely successful on Netflix after it debuted in 2015. The second season concluded with the Colombian drug lord’s death and was followed by Narcos: Mexico, which fictionalised criminality during the Eighties. Luis Antonio Navia, who spent 25 years working as a logistical drug trafficker for some of those gangs, told Express.co.uk about some of the mistakes of the TV show.
The Florida resident, now 65, claims he was responsible for the shipment of more than 300 tonnes of cocaine, worth an estimated $10billion (£7.6billion).
During those darker days when he was known as The Senator, Mr Navia dodged death multiple times including once when he was nearly fed alive to crocodiles.
He worked for some of the leading kingpins of the time, including Pablo Escobar – who he met once and described as “very cordial”.
Mr Navia’s exploits came to an end in 2000 when he was arrested as part of a 12-nation crackdown on drug trafficking and served six of an 11-years prison sentence.
He relayed his shocking anecdotes in the book Pure Narco, which was written by Australian journalist Jesse Fink and exposed some of the myths about TV adaptations.
Mr Navia claimed the majority of documentaries about the drug trade were “mostly accurate” and “showed real-life situations”.
He told Express.co.uk: “But as far as TV shows go, most of them are a pretty accurate portrayal of the characters.
“But with Narcos and others, not all of it is true and some aren’t historically accurate.
“Like in Narcos: Mexico they show [Alberto Sicilia] Falcon being shot – that’s not true he died much later from brain cancer.
“I was with him in 1996 so there’s no way he could have been shot like he was in Narcos.”
Mr Navia claimed another misrepresentation that “everybody’s fascinated by” is the consumption of alcohol.
He told Express.co.uk: “Every time you see these Narco leaders get together they are always having a drink from a bottle of scotch or whatever.
“Now I’m not saying they didn’t drink or participate in partying but with most of the guys I dealt with when we met them there was no liquor on the table.”
Mr Navia found the mistake amusing but in real-life, if someone showed up drunk or under the influence there could be fatal consequences.
He continued: “Their offices were not an open bar, if you wanted a drink you could go after the meeting and whack yourself out.
“The last thing they want to hear while talking about 5,000 kilos is someone asking for a scotch.
“[Journalist] Jesse [Fink] asked me, ‘Was there liquor and scotch at 10 in the morning when they were having a meeting?’
“No that’s a little exaggerated – there was but usually it was exaggerated in TV and at least some of the people I worked with never touched it.”
Mr Navia felt he was extremely lucky to have survived more than two decades in such a volatile industry and believed part of his longevity was down to being a “non-violent guy”.
He told Express.co.uk: “You’re in their land and in their land they are king, so always play it down.
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“I believe in non-violence, was never violent and never carried a gun – they liked that about me as there were very few people like that.
“I knew powerful people, some crazier than others, but in all situations, you always realise you’re at their rodeo, it’s not your rodeo so you should play it down and go with the flow.
“That’s what kept me alive was that I was very good at what I did, they respected my ability at logistics.
“I never told them that I was a great killer or a bad guy because I didn’t do that, my thing was logistics and I made good on my loads and that’s the goose that laid the golden egg in the business.”
Mr Navia explained that you “can’t outsmart” criminals or “pull the wool over their eyes” because they are “extremely intelligent”.
He told Express.co.uk: “They have an extremely intelligent sense of smell and can sense a rat, they don’t get to where they are by being naive.
“Non-violence was a big part of what kept me alive – understanding how to keep my cool and everybody at a nice comfort level.”
Pure Narco: One Man’s True Story Of 25 Years Inside The Colombian And Mexican Cartels was published by Bonnier Books this month and is available here.
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