I experienced unexpected tears which surprised me, a lot, while reviewing VH1’s new reality show “Cartel Crew.” Drugs are a touchy subject since they may negatively impact many lives on many different levels. From the outside looking inside, we know at least one thing, and that is the fact that illegal drug money is “big money” and with those type of dividends, it comes at great risk. Violent death is a part of the game.
If you’re an intelligent person then you know that the real drug dealers wear suits, have seats in the government and own paramedical companies. What the new VH1’s series, “Cartel Crew” is really about is the impact the illegal drug game, at the street level, has made on a handful of young people whose close family members made millions of dollars and powerful enemies in the cartel game.
Set in Miami, “Cartel Crew” follows the lives of eight descendants of cartel families and tells the world what it’s really like to have gangsters in the family tree. The series takes a deep dive into how they are navigating their adulthood and the effects the legacy that has been a part of their lives.
As you can imagine, it’s a big jump trying to disconnect from their past, but making a name for themselves outside of the drug world, makes for great television viewing. Where there is money there is drama and where there is love, there is even more drama.
There are a lot of rules when you are part of the cartel, like being aware of your surroundings at all times. But the largest one that looms is not “to snitch.” Another point that was made is that the cartel world is about power.
The insiders include: Michael Blanco
Michael Blanco grew up surrounded by crime. The youngest son of Griselda Blanco (the “Cocaine Godmother”), he followed his mother’s footsteps into the drug world. “My mother invented the cocaine business, as you know it … ” she killed a lot of people” he shares with a matter of fact tone.
At the age of 11, he was running the day-to-day operations because his brother and his mother were in prison. Before he became a legitimate businessman, he buried 22 members of his family, including his mother, who was assassinated and whom he remembers as his “mentor” and his “best friend.” A straight shooter, Blanco sums it all up in the first episode saying that “for 33 years, I was a straight criminal.” Now, a father and attempting a legit life, he launched a personal clothing brand inspired by his mother and the cartel lifestyle, “Pure Blanco,” in an effort to prove that he could break the cycle. @michaelcorleoneblanco
Marie Ramirez De Arellano
Marie was born into the cartel life. While her father kept his business private, the family heard rumors of his dealings. Now grown, she’s lost touch with her family largely because of her relationship with Michael Blanco. She’s given up everything for the man she loves and is devoted to “Pure Blanco,” although she has a few secrets in her past that may shock even the unflappable Michael Blanco. @lil_ms.monroe
Kat “Tatu Baby” Flores
After the assassination of her cartel-affiliated father, Kat and her mother fled from New York to Miami, leaving their old life behind. In her voiceover, Kat confesses that she has terrible taste in men, but longs for a change in her destructive pattern. When the father of her son went to jail (on drug charges) she “put on her big girl pants” and opened a tattoo shop. Episode one finds Kat focusing on raising her son and dealing with the early prison release of her son’s father, Eddie.
Daughter to a former career cocaine trafficker, Stephanie’s childhood was shattered when her father was arrested and sent to federal prison. Today, she is determined to move on from the past, choosing to concentrate on her singing career. @stephs_music
Nicole Zavala and Michael Zavala
Twins Nicole and Michael grew up enjoying the money that a cartel life provides, without losing a loved one to prison or murder. A fact that makes them stand out like sore thumbs. Yet they strive to be accepted in the community and they clash with others who don’t believe they grew up with a legitimate tie to the cartel. @realnicolezavalaz and Michael Zavala, @zavalaconcepts
Carlos “Loz” Oliveros
After a member of his family was brutally murdered, allegedly by the cartel, Loz stepped away from a life of crime. A fine artist of sorts, now he’s currently focusing on his career as a tattoo artist and raising his daughter while trying to avoid demons from his former life. @iamloz_
After serving two years in prison for her role in running a cartel-connected marijuana hot house, a mother of four, Dayana is trying to make up for lost time and start a new life. @dayanac__
To learn more visit www.cartelcrew.vh1.com.
Follow the crew by liking @CartelCrewVH1 on Facebook and follow @CartelCrew on Instagram and Twitter. Use #CartelCrew to join the conversation.
“Cartel Crew” is executively produced by Dan Cesareo, Lucilla D’Agostino, Faith Gaskins and Lashan Browning and co-executive produced by James Knox for Big Fish Entertainment, an MGM Company. Nina L. Diaz and Daniel Blau Rogge executive produce for VH1.