British director Ridley Scott, the man behind classics such as Blade Runner and Thelma and Louise, is set to film parts of his new movie The Cartel in the former jail of Malaga in southern Spain – a building that has been closed since 2009.
The movie, an adaptation of Don Winslow‘s bestselling novel of the same name, is partly based on the life of Mexican drug boss Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, and the former prison will stand in for the Mexican facility where the drug trafficker was held until his first – and most spectacular – jail break in 2001 when he allegedly escaped in a dirty laundry basket with the help of dozens of prison workers.
Guzmán, recently extradited to the United States where he faces narcotics charges, was responsible for setting up the notorious Sinaloa drugs cartel, once the world’s biggest drug operation.
Scott, who shot part of his biblical epic Exodus in Andalusia’s Almeria province in 2013, chose the former Malaga prison for the shoot after visiting the building in December to see whether it would serve as the Puente Grande maximum security prison from which El Chapo carried out all of his business until his January 2001 escape.
El Chapo is not named in Scott’s movie. Instead, the plot focuses on the story of two friends, Art Keller and Adan Berrera, whose lives take very different paths, with Keller becoming involved in the fight against drug trafficking and Berrera becoming the head of the Sinaloa cartel.
El Chapo’s recent extradition to the US has created a power vacuum within the Sinaloa cartel that former leaders and Guzmán’s sons are fighting to fill. This has led to an increase in violence not seen since 2008 or 2011, during the worst years of the war against the drug cartels unleashed by former Mexican president Felipe Calderón.
English version by George Mills.