IT'S the TV show that has the world hooked on its high-octane mix of ultra-violence, sex and drugs. Now the two American undercover agents who inspired the hit Netflix series Narcos are on their way to Scotland to reveal the truth about how they brought down the infamous Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Javier Pena and Steve Murphy spent 16 months tracking the murderous Medellin cartel boss before he was gunned down on a rooftop in December 1993.

Murphy was famously pictured grinning next to Escobar’s bloodied body while gripping the collar of his shirt.

Murphy, 61, and Pena, 62, will appear at the O2 Academy in Glasgow on Wednesday, the first and only Scottish date in a tour of the UK and Ireland.

Both men were beat cops, then worked for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in the US before requesting transfers to Colombia where they took on Escobar, who was responsible for supplying 80 per cent of cocaine used in the US.

Escobar, the archetypal narco-terrorist, was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, including hundreds of police officers, so Murphy’s wife, Connie, took some convincing that Colombia was the right move for the couple.

“She had to think about that for several weeks but eventually she came around and said let’s do it while we’re young,” said Murphy.

“My family and her family weren’t real crazy about the idea because they were worried about our safety. But my wife has always supported me, and she explained to our parents that this is what he wants to do and if he gets killed, he’ll get killed doing what he wants to do. And away we went to Bogata.”

When he arrived Murphy, who is played by Boyd Holbrook in Narcos, met Pena, who is played by Pedro Pascal.

Pena, who is from Texas, said: “I got there in ’88 and Steve arrived in ’91. When Steve got there, I introduced him to the guys and they accepted him. We started working closely together after Pablo Escobar escaped from prison in ‘92.”

Murphy and Pena were involved in raids with Colombian police, telephone intercepts, and gathering intelligence from informants. And they saw first-hand the trail of destruction left by Escobar - including the 1989 bombing of a plane, in a failed attempt to assassinate a Colombian presidential candidate, which killed 101 people.

Murphy, who grew up in Tennessee and has a southern drawl, said: “Javier and I were in dangerous situations most every day. We saw so many friends who were Columbian police officers killed down there. One time we went to a funeral and there were eight coffins lined up at the church. That was tough. We give the Colombian police a lot of credit for how we managed to survive down there.

“Pablo also used car bombs to instil fear and make people do what he wanted them to do, so we called Pablo the world’s first narco-terrorist. One of the worst things I saw was outside a glass shopping mall in northern Bogota. It happened to be a day when mothers were bringing children to the mall to buy school clothes. They were massacred. I saw the carnage in the aftermath. There was glass everywhere, body parts laying around, there were lifeless bodies of children.”

Murphy dismissed any notion that Escobar was a Robin Hood-like figure and admits he finds it incredulous that people romanticise him.

“He was nothing more than a mass murderer,” he said. “We say he was responsible for 10,000 to 15,000 deaths. One of his sicarios [hitmen], who is still alive in Columbia, said Pablo was responsible for more like 50,000 deaths.

“In the US we have these shootings when three, four, five people are killed by the same person. We call that a mass shooting. What the heck do you call somebody that kills 50,000 people? There are no words to describe it.”

The hunt for Escobar proved difficult because he had millions of dollars in drug money to pay for protection. Money was often buried in secret underground caches across Colombia. He also has a huge network of gang members at his bidding.

Pena said: “They were hiding him, he was moving around. Whenever we would mount operations, people would warn him. Also, Medellin is a mountainous area and they knew the area – we did not. He could move around very easily.”

Murphy added: “There were so many opportunities when we could have got Pablo, but we just missed him." He said in Narcos the film-makers often showed a cigarette still burning in an ashtray or cups of coffee unfinished or food still warm to indicate the DEA and Colombian police were just moments behind Escobar. "We didn’t run into cigarettes," says Murphy, "but we did run into places where the coffee was still hot, so we know we just missed him by minutes.”

In the Netflix series, Murphy and Pena were seen shooting and killing suspects, and working with right-wing death squads to hunt down drug gangs. When asked about this, Murphy said: “It’s just not something we want to talk about. It’s a dark topic. But a lot of Narcos is Hollywood. We’re not complaining, we loved Narcos. It’s a great action series. It’s really cool. But a lot was added in.”

Escobar was finally tracked down in Medellin and shot and killed by Colombian police as he tried to escape across a rooftop in December 1993. Murphy and Pena were sent back to the US the following summer.

Murphy said: “The remaining time we were in Colombia we were pretty much working on the Medellin cartel. We cut off the head of the snake and then we had to chop up the snake’s body. After that we just moved on to the next case. I went to North Carolina and Javier ended up in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Now, we knew the Escobar case was the biggest case we’d ever work in our lives, but the truth is it was just another case.”

Pena added: “The show has artistic license, which is fine. That’s what makes the show so good. And, aside from the artistic licence, the chronology of the show was accurate. That’s what really happened and we’re happy with it. But in our presentation on Wednesday we will tell the true story of the rise and fall of the Medellin cartel.”


Steve Murphy was pictured next to Pablo Escobar’s body but he was not involved in the rooftop shootout that led to the drug lord’s death. And Pena wasn’t even in the country.

Murphy said: “In Narcos I was up there with the Columbian police but that’s not reality – that’s Hollywood. I was actually back at the police base with Americans listening to the operation on the radio.

“After a few minutes I heard that famous phrase “viva Columbia” and got the confirmation that Pablo was dead.”

Around fifteen minutes after Escobar’s death, Murphy drove to the scene and was photographed next to his body with other agents.

“We were elated,” he said. “You have got to understand we had seen hundreds of our friends killed and thousands of innocent people killed, all because of this one guy.

“We all knew now he’s dead the whole country is safer. It just felt like the pressure of the world had been lifted off our shoulders. We were under a lot of pressure from the embassy and from Washington. That’s why we were all smiling. Everybody was happy this guy was finally dead.”

Pena was also pleased that Escobar was dead but he was unhappy he wasn’t in Medellin at the time.

“I was sent to Miami to meet an informant,” he said. “The informant was the one who told me Escobar got killed, so I got on a plane back to Colombia.

“I didn’t want to go to Miami in the first place. The US ambassador ordered me. The informant was very credible but, you know, Escobar was not in Miami and we were close to him in Medellin. I wish I was in Medellin but in the end, it was all good for everybody.”

Murphy added: “The guys engaged in the firefight – our friends in the Colombian police – they took out Pablo Escobar that day. They were the true heroes. They took their country back that day.”


Pablo Escobar was born into poverty in Columbia’s second largest city Medellin in 1949 and by the age of 35 was one of the world’s wealthiest men having built a multi-billion dollar cocaine smuggling cartel.

At the height of his powers Escobar was believed to be worth $3bn and was responsible for an estimated 80 per cent of the cocaine trafficked into the US.

However, the human cost of Escobar’s empire was high with an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 lives lost before he was finally killed by Columbian police in 1993 when he was 44.

Among the murders linked to the Medellin cartel was the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán and the downing of Avianca Flight 203, which was blown up over Columbia killing 110 people, including three on the ground.

Escobar was a violent criminal who was the main target for Columbian and US authorities, but he won popular support and became a Robin Hood-like figure by handing out cash in slums.

He even got to parliament when he was elected as an alternate member of the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia in 1982 - but was forced to resign two years later when the then justice minister Rodrigo Lara Bonilla exposed his role in cocaine trafficking. Bonilla was assassinated a short time later.

In 1991 Escobar surrendered to the Columbian government and was permitted to build his own luxury prison - known as La Catedral - complete with a casino, spa and nightclub.

When it emerged he was still directing his drugs empire from La Caterdral, Escobar was ordered to be sent to a mainstream prison but he escaped before the transfer. After a 16-month manhunt Escobar was gunned down in a rooftop shootout with Colombian police.


Fans of Narcos have falled in love with the show's theme song, Tuyo. But little do they know the music they are listening to is often the soundtrack to murder.

Tuyo is a take on a type of folk music called 'narcocorrido' - roughly translated as 'drug ballad' - which romanticises the life and crimes of drug kingpins. Think of gangsta rap with a latin rhythm. Narcocorridos have often been banned because of their gleeful celebration of criminality.

The Narcos opening theme song ‘Tuyo’, which translates as ‘Yours’, was composed by Rodrigo Amarante, a member of the band Little Joy.

He based the song on what he imagined Escobar’s mother would have listened to while raising her son.

The lyrics include the lines: “I am the fire that burns your skin, I am the water that kills your thirst, I am the castle, the tower, the sword that guards the treasure."