DEA agents behind ‘Narcos’ visit JSU

James Waller, Correspondent

Jacksonville State University welcomed Stephen Murphy and Javier Peña to campus, two former agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and inspiration for Netflix’s series, “Narcos”. 

The agents told their stories in Leone Cole Auditorium from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, November 18 in a free event open to faculty, staff and students.

“Narcos” is an award-winning, three-season, Netflix-exclusive series released in 2015 that tells a fictionalized account of the events surrounding Pablo Escobar, a drug kingpin, and his criminal empire. The first two seasons tell a story of the fall of the Cali Cartel with the third season based on events following Escobar’s death.

Both agents, Murphy and Peña, stressed that they came to JSU to tell a more real story than the one presented in the Netflix series, which was dramatized for an audience. 

Murphy, a policeman from West Virginia, had never been to Miami as was portrayed in Netflix’s adaptation of events.  

“It’s about the true story,” said Murphy. “Now we’re not up here pretending to be something we’re not. We’re not super cops.” 

While Peña worked as a consultant for the creation of “Narcos,” he was not involved in the DEA’s Cali Cartel investigation. Peña was involved in the investigation of Escobar, but the events surrounding him in season three of  “Narcos” are as heavily fictionalized as the show’s events surrounding Murphy. 

In their presentation, the retired agents gave gritty details and graphic images via visual aids of crimes committed by Escobar and his accomplices. Their accounts were not the dramatic retelling found in “Narcos.” 

As part of this recounting, Murphy spoke of Los Pepes, an anti-Escobar vigilante group, saying that they were instrumental in taking down Escobar, but that as a law enforcement agent, he could not condone Los Pepes or their methods.

This event was hosted by the JSU Department of Criminal Justice and Forensic Investigation alongside the JSU Center for Best Practices in Law Enforcement.

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