Narco Bling explores the Mexican drug lord's lust for luxury. It's a behind-the-scenes look at some of the world's most wanted criminals, their opulent lifestyles and how Mexico is fighting a battle against a rich and powerful enemy - the drug cartels.

With access to the seized riches and weaponry of the drug lords, Narco Bling reveals a world of astonishing wealth and extravagance. It's a world dominated by the Sinaloa Cartel and its leader, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, one of the world's most wanted and powerful criminals. Expert accounts of the cartel's trafficking networks, and a boots-on-the-ground perspective of law enforcement on both sides of the border, show how Mexico's drug cartels have become a $40 billion a year global industry and why the war to stop them has no end in sight.

The documentary takes us inside a live government auction of seized "narco-bling" - a treasure trove of gaudy status symbols of Mexican drug lords. This "bling" gives us insight into the life of Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese-Mexican businessman who is accused of importing chemicals from China for the production of methamphetamine, the newest offering in the Sinaloa Cartel's product line. In addition to the riches on auction, Ye Gon's mansion was found to have $205 million in cash stashed inside. And yet, Ye Gon is considered only a minor player in El Chapo's operation.

Money means not only riches, but also weaponry for the Sinaloa Cartel. At the Mexican military's gun warehouse in the heart of drug country - Sinaloa state – we see a row of blinged-out firearms, some seized from members of El Chapo's cartel.

Money also means impunity. This is particularly true for El Chapo and other leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel. Despite his humble origins, El Chapo controls a vast drug distribution empire that spans six continents. He has managed to evade authorities for more than a decade since a prison break in 2001. Using unique graphic novel-inspired animation, Narco Bling tells the story of that escape from a maximum security prison. Some believe that money has made him "untouchable" and that he isn't even in hiding. But it's hard to separate the man from the myth. An army officer reports that El Chapo is like a saint, with sightings of him reported throughout Mexico.

With riches, weaponry, and apparent impunity, El Chapo's influence extends far beyond the Mexican border. Some 80 percent of the meth that is sold in the U.S. comes from Mexico and much of that is under the control of the Sinaloa Cartel. In Calexico, California and its surroundings, working with Border Protection agents and an elite narcotics task force, Narco Bling shows the drug war in action along one of El Chapo's smuggling routes – exposing a complex trafficking network and the major cartel narco who managed it all from a sprawling ranch in Sinaloa.

UPDATE: 

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, Mexico's most wanted drug lord, was captured on February 22, 2014 in the resort city of Mazatlan on Mexico's Pacific coast. Mexican and U.S. authorities tracked him down to a seaside condominium and arrested him in a pre-dawn raid with no gunshots fired. Taken to a maximum security prison, Guzmán was charged the next day with cocaine trafficking. Many more charges are expected both in Mexico and the U.S.

 

Credits (Click to expand)

END CREDITS

Producer / Writer

PHILIP NIDDRIE

Co-Producer

ISHAM RANDOLPH

Line Producer

HILARY BURKE

Executive Producer

ROBERT ZAKIN

Editor

BONNIE CUTLER-SHEAR

Correspondent

MARIANA VAN ZELLER

Director of Photography

HOWARD SHACK

Additional Cinematography

ERICK CASTILLO

ROB LYALL

ALEX SIMMONS

Composer

AARON KEANE

Sound Recordists

LUIS ARAU

JOSEPH EGAN

RON HYATT

Fixers

CUITLAHUAC CORONA

MARC KATZ

NICOLAS MANDRI

MARGARITA SOLANO

ANDRES VILLAREAL

Grips

CHRIS ANDRUS

ROB MIGRIN

Interns

EDMUND JOHN HORSTMAN

MOLLY FERRILL

MARGARET MEALY

BEN VINAR

JED WINER

Production Coordinators

DANYA HAKEEM

COLIN SHEA

Production Manager

PATRICK HARE

Stock Footage Research

RACHEL WEAVER

Researcher

PAULINA A. VACA

Assistant Editors

CLIFTON ARMSTRONG

Online Editor

JIM SHEEHY

Post Production Coordinator

AMANDA WERNER

Post Production Supervisors

DEBORAH NATHANSON

MELISSA OLDFIELD

Colorist

TED SNAVELY

Sound Mixer

CHERYL OTTENRITTER

Sound Designers

WILLIE ELIAS

MICHEL MARRANO

Art and Animation

PIXELDUST STUDIOS

For National Geographic Television

Specialist, Facilities and Scheduling

SARAH ELLISON

Manager, Post Production and MediaCore Scheduling

MARCIE CALLAHAN

Manager, Technical Operations

MATTHEW REEDY

Director, Post Production Operations

BRADEN MCILVAINE

Specialist, Production Rights and Clearances

KATIE LEE

Director, Rights and Clearances

CATHERINE YELLOZ

Director, Production Management

JOHNITA “JAYE” MORAN

Director, Research

TODD HERMANN

SVP, Editorial Development

MALVINA MARTIN

Executive Vice President, Standards and Practices, Global Media

SCOTT WYERMAN

Executive Vice President, Business Development and Operations

DEBBIE LONDON-HARRINGTON

President, NGT

MARYANNE CULPEPPER

Special Thanks

JORGE CARRASCO

EL CENTRO POLICE DEPARTMENT

DOUGLAS FARAH

IMPERIAL COUNTY NARCOTICS TASK FORCE

RIODOCE

SAE

SHAUL SCHWARZ

SEDENA

Stock Footage

AP ARCHIVE

CACTUS FILM & VIDEO

JUAN CARLOS CRUZ

DEA

GETTY IMAGES

JOSE LUIS GONZALEZ

ANABEL HERNANDEZ

PGR

NBC UNIVERSAL ARCHIVES

REUTERS

SERVICIO DE ADMINISTRACION Y ENAJENACION DE BIENES

SSP

STATE OF SINALOA

For National Geographic Channels

Executive Producer

KATHLEEN CROMLEY

Production Managers

LEANNE DANIELSON

VESPER OSBORNE

Unit Managers

DREW BARROW

DREW JONES

Production Coordinator

MARION ASHLEY SAID

Executive in Charge of Production

MICHAEL CASCIO

*Produced with cooperation of the Department of Homeland Security*

Produced by National Geographic Television for National Geographic Channels

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