Cancelled: Narco Wars: Screening – Mexico: Seven Days in Hell


Unreported World travels to Mexico where international demand for cocaine in the US and Europe has led to the deaths of thousands in a brutal war between gangs fighting for control of cocaine trafficking routes. Reporter Evan Williams and Director Alex Nott provide a snapshot of seven days of death in Culiacan, capital of the northern state of Sinaloa.

As soon as the team arrives they are confronted with victims of the cocaine cartel executions that have become a daily reality for the city’s 600,000 inhabitants. The killing is relentless. It includes gang members, police officers and innocent victims. Every few hours the team is called to another killing, dumped body, kidnapping or victim of a shoot-out.

The team visits the State Prison, where cartel members have used grenades and automatic weapons to attack each other. They go on to meet a member of the State Parliament, who is too afraid of cartel spies to talk to them inside the State Parliament. She tells Williams her life is in danger but she wants to speak out rather than surrender to cartel violence. She claims the cartels make billions of pounds a year from the drug trade and use some of it to buy protection from local politicians.

At Sunday Mass the team meets the spokesman of the Culiacan Diocese. He tells them the gangs have so much money they are buying off those who are meant to be fighting the drug trade: the police. This allegation is repeated by a local TV producer, who claims that some police are working for the cartels as spies, informers and even hit men.

Williams confronts the state police co-ordinator, Commandante Manuel Hernandez. He tells Unreported World that these claims need evidence – but with so much money around from the drug trade the existence of corrupt officers can’t be ruled out.

The team moves on to the foothills of the Sierra Madre, a mountain range where the cartels rule virtually unchallenged by the authorities. Here they discover the bodies of five men killed in a cartel-style execution. The father of two of the dead men is there but he doesn’t want to speak about who might have been behind the killing or why the men were killed.

The violence has become so widespread that Mexico’s Federal Government has declared an all-out war against the cartels and called in the army to take them on.

In Culiacan, the team follows some of the 3,500 troops as they mount house-to-house raids searching for senior cartel members. But Williams also talks to a human rights investigator who tells him that since the troops arrived in Culiacan the murder rate has doubled, and she doubts they are taking on the drug gang bosses.

Unreported World also shows how many people, unconnected to the drug trade, are caught in the crossfire. Williams meets Conseulo, who says her son was shot dead by a state police officer for allegedly having a weapon. She claims the police shot him by accident and are now trying to cover up, refusing to hold a full inquiry.

The team also meet Alma, who lost her 16-year-old son when he was killed with eight others in crossfire at a local garage. She claims the police are too afraid of the gangs to hold a proper investigation.