Meeting a murderous drug lord? Take fearless Sergeant Fox with you: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV
Meet The Drug Lords: Inside The Real Narcos (C4)
The Prosecutors (BBC2)
Former Special Boat Service sergeant Jason ‘Foxy’ Fox has a lazy Plymouth drawl, with a ready chuckle that belies his hardman image.
But when he faced a Mexican hitman, through a bulletproof screen at a maximum security prison in Texas, Foxy was able to open up the interview by talking about ‘the first time I killed a man’. You don’t hear that kind of questioning on The One Show.
Meet The Drug Lords (C4) did all the title promised and more as the ex-Commando-turned-TV presenter infiltrated Mexico’s murderous gangs.
Jason joined the police in Acapulco, once a sought after tourist destination, now has the second highest murder rate in the world as rival cartels battle for control
To fans of the dramatised documentaries that Netflix does so well, such as Narcos and El Chapo, this was heady stuff. Some of the scenes and characters could have been created by screenwriters — for example, the jungle bandit who’s leading a running battle with American anti-drugs agents.
Leering through his face mask at Foxy, his eyes glittering, the commander giggled: ‘What haven’t I done? I have never killed a reporter like you. But the bad thing is . . . I’d like to!’
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More people have died in Mexico’s drugs wars, we learned, than in the Afghanistan conflict.
The wealthiest of the victims are buried in a lavish graveyard city in Sinaloa, where bulletproof tombs in the style of castles, palaces and churches can cost more than £500,000 to build.
By the end of the programme, the first of three, Foxy had uncovered a world of evil that made the Netflix shows look like Disney fables.
Jason Fox travelled into the Golden Triangle, the Heroin and Crystal Meth producing heartland of the Sinaloan Cartel
The convicted hitman, his face tattooed like a Pierrot doll, described how 100 of his cartel’s enemies would be rounded up and imprisoned in slaughterhouses —then given a single knife, with freedom promised to the last man left alive.
And on the streets of Acapulco, once a haven for hedonistic tourists and American couples seeking a quickie divorce, gangs strew the dismembered bodies of their victims across the roads.
Deja vu again of the night
The Beeb is always happy to fill any hole in the schedules with a repeat of New Tricks (BBC1).
But there were 21 other repeats on BBC1 and BBC2 before midnight last night.
That’s not television, it’s a bad case of visual Polyfilla.
It was at this point that we began to feel Sgt Fox was not merely an entertaining macho man in the Ross Kemp mould, but our safest possible guide on these blood-soaked streets.
As the police flew into a panic, fearing the latest corpse was bait to lure them into an ambush, Foxy calmly showed his cameraman where to take cover. Some scenes were almost too grim to watch and, in winning the trust of these thugs, the show runs the risk of glorifying them. But cameras have never been closer to the reality of the drugs trade.
It’s a business that brings deadly dangers in this country, too — though the biggest threat to British villains is their own stupidity.
The Prosecutors (BBC2) watched as police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) gathered evidence against a gang using drones to fly drugs and phones into prisons.
Drones flying drugs into prisons in the UK were being investigated on BBC2’s The Prosecutors
One of the drone pilots, blundering about at night in a field with his remote control kit, stumbled into a lake and drowned.
The others were caught because they didn’t understand that an onboard computer maps each flight to the inch — enabling police to track the little aircraft from one cell window to the next, before following it right back to the owner’s front door.
But this documentary offered no comment: we were meant to admire the tenacity of the CPS, without wondering about the futility of their battle.
The ringleaders, after all, were already in prison. They ran their crime empires from their cells. Until that fiasco can be halted, what’s the point of locking them up for longer?
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