As soon as Netflix dropped the Narcos series, interest in the Spanish language series hit an all-time high all over the world. Part of the appeal came with the portrayal of the complicated lives of these infamous drug lords.
A large chunk of the drug trade around the world originates from Latin America and there have been multiple accounts about these cartels that have been told on our screens. Sometimes they’re fictional stories, sometimes they’re real documentaries, and sometimes reimagined stories with a dash of both. Here is a list of the 10 best Spanish crime series on Netflix right now:
1. El Chapo
Cast: Marco de la O, Humberto Busto, Diego Vásquez, Juan Carlos Cruz, Alejandro Aguilar, Laura Osma
This series chronicles the rise and fall of one of the most wanted drug kingpins in the world, Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman. From his early days as a low-level grunt in the Guadalajara cartel to taking charge as the head of the Sinaloa cartel and his eventual capture in 2016. El Chapo was well-known for his successful use of tunnels, which helped him escape the authorities on multiple occasions until his luck finally ran out.
El Chapo is a very interesting character which this Spanish series captures perfectly. From the steady pacing to the phenomenal acting, this series is one to dedicate your attention to.
2. Pablo Escobar: El Patrón del Mal (Pablo Escobar, The Drug Lord)
Cast: Cecilia Navia, Vicky Hernández, Christian Tappan, Andrés Parra, Angie Cepeda, Rodolfo Silva
Pablo Escobar embraced the life of a notorious drug lord like it was always his destiny to do so. His arrogance shined through as he ascended to the top of the cocaine drug trade with the Medellín Cartel. He was bashful and constantly held back the threat from his rivals until his hubris led to an eventual downfall.
This series is produced in the traditional telenovela style and has the right balance of drama and action to leave you satisfied by the end.
3. El regreso de un guerrero (El Dragón: Return of a Warrior)
Cast: Sebastián Rulli, Renata Notni, Manuel Balbi, Cassandra Sanchez Navarro, Juan Pablo Gil, Roberto Mateos
Miguel (Rulli) is sent to Japan as a little boy after his parents were brutally murdered in Mexico. he grows up to be a suave and charming financial consultant, well adept in martial arts and living an easy life. His life takes a turn, however when he moves back to Mexico and is positioned to take over his grandfather’s cartel.
A Spanish series with a blend of cultures, El Dragon showcases all kinds of action in well-choreographed sequences and as Miguel gets ready to take his rightful place despite the many obstacles.
4. Las muñecas de la mafia (The Mafia Dolls)
Cast: Amparo Grisales, Fernando Solórzano, Angélica Blandón, Katherine Escobar, Yuly Ferreira, Alejandra Sandoval
5 young women get caught up in the dangers of the drug trade due to their association with members of the local cartel. They are put through so much in their bid to survive this terrifying life. The women walk different paths but it does not always end well for them as they become unfortunate victims and someone else’s war.
A different perspective into the cartel business, The Mafia Dolls is a Spanish series that comes with tons of drama and excitement and features some wonderful performances by its leading women.
5. La Reina del Sur
Cast: Kate del Castillo, Humberto Zurita, Alejandro Calva, Carmen Navarro, Ágata Clares, Raoul Bova
Teresa (Castillo) is a Mexican woman who loses her boyfriend to the Mexican cartel and fleas to the south of Spain. When she is faced with the loss of a loved one yet again, she decides to take matters into her own hands and through grit and determination and a keen business sense, makes her way to the top of her organization in Spain.
This Spanish-language telenovela had such an intriguing story that not only did it spawn a second season 8 years after the first, it was also adapted into an English language remake titled ‘Queen of the South’.
6. Fariña (Cocaine Coast)
Cast: Javier Rey, Tristán Ulloa, Antonio Durán ‘Morris’, Carlos Blanco, Manuel Lourenzo, Xosé A. Touriñán
In the 1980s, countless fishermen and boat owners in Galicia are thrust into debt due to the policies of Spain’s dictator, Franco. Some enterprising individuals decide to take this opportunity to traffic contraband such as tobacco and soon after, drugs like cocaine. Eventually, Galicia becomes the hub for 80% of drugs that arrive in Europe, as the lowly fisherman begin to make a name for themselves.
Yet another Spanish language series based on true events, ‘Cocaine Coast’ does a great job portraying how some people will go to any lengths to survive when they have only their desperation to keep them going.
7. No te puedes esconder (You Cannot Hide)
Cast: Blanca Soto, Eduardo Noriega, Iván Sánchez, Maribel Verdú, Samantha Siqueiros, Patricia Guirado
A nurse and her daughter flee to Spain from Mexico to get away from her husband’s cartel associations, but unfortunately, she finds out that it is not so easy to escape one’s drug trafficking past. Together, the mother-daughter duo must constantly watch their backs while trying to move on with their lives to make sure they survive through this ordeal.
A thrilling Spanish language series, ‘You Cannot Hide’ has a very engaging and self-contained story that will have you struggle to pull yourself away from the screen.
8. Enemigo Íntimo
Cast: Fernanda Castillo, Raúl Méndez, María del Carmen Félix, Monica Jimenez, Leonardo Daniel, Alejandro Speitzer
Two siblings are forced to watch their parents be murdered by the Mexican cartel and then separated as the younger girl is kidnapped and taken away. 25 years later, the older boy is now a member of the federal police to take down the Narcos that destroyed his family, while the girl is a criminal who carries out operations in direct opposition to her brother.
This is a highly enjoyable Spanish language telenovela that includes brilliant character work and exciting twists and turns throughout.
8. Vivir sin permiso (Unauthorized Living)
Cast: Jose Coronado, Álex González, Claudia Traisac, Luis Zahera, Giulia Charm, Xabier Deive
Nemo is a highly successful drug-lord who has maintained the charade of being a legitimate businessman. Soon after his sixtieth birthday, he is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and begins planning his retirement and choosing who will take over as his successor. Everyone involved who has a shot at being the heir has their designs on running the business, and this leads to chaos and betrayals galore.
Held aloft by a powerful performance from its lead actor, Jose Coronado, ‘Unauthorized Living’ has a gripping story that is told at an ideal pace to grab the attention of the viewers.
10. El Cartel de los Sapos (The Cartel of Snitches)
Cast: Manolo Cardona, Karen Martínez, Róbinson Diaz, Diego Cadavid, Fernando Solórzano, Julian Arango
Two close friends join the Cali cartel to make some quick cash. They are drawn in by the extravagant lifestyles that the traffickers live but they soon realise all the danger that comes with the job. They make the rise to the top but are eventually forced to turn on their brothers to secure their safety.
This Spanish language series is adapted from a book and it manages to include the same amount of engrossing action that was narrated within its pages of life within the Cali Cartel.