Carlos Muñoz Portal, a location manager for the popular Netflix series “Narcos,” was reportedly fatally shot in rural Mexico last week while scouting filming sites for the show’s fourth season, according to Spanish-language news sites.
Muñoz’s vehicle was found amid cactuses Monday on a remote, unnamed dirt road in Temascalapa, a town in the state of Mexico; inside the car was Muñoz’s body, which had several gunshot wounds, El Pais reported under a headline that translates to “Violence in Mexico surpasses fiction.”
A friend of Muñoz told the newspaper the 37-year-old had been driving to the south-central part of the country to photograph possible filming locations. The friend speculated Muñoz might have drawn unwanted attention to himself as a foreigner with a camera. The region is near the border with the state of Hidalgo, known for its high homicide rate — 182 were reported last year, according to El Pais.
Because of the rural area, authorities have had trouble finding witnesses, a spokesman for the attorney general of the state of Mexico told the newspaper.
Netflix released a statement acknowledging Muñoz’s death but did not report further details.
“We are aware of the passing of Carlos Muñoz Portal, a well-respected scout, and send our condolences to his family,” the company said in a statement to Deadline. “The facts surrounding his death are still unknown as authorities continue to investigate.”
“Narcos” debuted on Netflix in 2015, and its first two seasons — following drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, his cocaine empire, and his violent clashes with politicians, criminals and the Drug Enforcement Administration — were set in Colombia. The show’s third season, which began airing earlier this month, focuses on the Cali Cartel, also of Colombia.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter last September, “Narcos” showrunner Eric Newman hinted strongly the show’s fourth season would be moving to Mexico.
“Cali was the cartel that really utilized the smuggling routes through Mexico and the Mexican heroin smugglers who were already incredibly successful,” Newman told the entertainment news site then. “They very much got the Mexicans into the cocaine business, so there is sort of a natural evolution there. As to whether I would move directly into Mexico, it’s certainly a possibility.”
According to his IMDb profile, Muñoz worked in the television and film industry for more than a decade, starting as a location assistant in the mid-2000s for movies including “Man on Fire,” “The Legend of Zorro” and “Apocalypto.” His social media pages indicated that he attended the University of the Americas in his native Puebla, Mexico, about 80 miles southeast of Mexico City — and, outside of the film industry, that he was an avid tennis and soccer fan and landscape photographer.
Muñoz’s last Instagram post was made last Saturday from an open field in Puebla. It was captioned, simply, “Home.”