Location scout Carlos Muñoz Portal has been found dead in Mexico, where he was searching for places to film Netflix’s Narcos.
The series, which charts the rise and fall of drug cartels, began telling the story of Pablo Escobar, before moving on to Columbia’s Cali Cartel in Season 3. Season 4 was understood to be moving the production to Mexico, where it would focus on the Juarez Cartel. While scouting for potential locations, though, Muñoz Portal was found shot to death.
The scout, who first began working on Tony Scott’s Man on Fire, has worked on a number of major projects in the region, including Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, the fourth film in the Fast & Furious franchise, several episodes of Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle and, recently, Denis Villeneuve’s action thriller, Sicario. He also worked on SPECTRE, which opened with a parade sequence in Mexico City’s main square, Zocalo.
The 37-year-old’s body and car were found on a dirt road in San Bartolomé Actopan, in the municipality of Temascalapa. The area was north-east of Mexico, near the border with Hidalgo, which is reported to have one of Mexico’s highest murder rates. The remove location means that there are no witnesses, acccording to the attorney general.
An unnamed friend of Muñoz Portal told Spanish newspaper El Pais that he drove to the location to take photographs, suggesting that “maybe they thought he was collecting information and they started tracking him in a car”.
There is speculation that Muñoz Portal’s murder could lead to the decision to take the production back to Colombia, which would deal a major blow to the country’s audiovisual industry, where hundreds of jobs have been created by the streaming service.
“The Americans canceled for many years many large projects in Mexico for the violence. They took them to Australia, Colombia, South Africa, Canada and Cuba … We can not afford thousands of people to lose their jobs for 6 months,” one newspaper clerk told El Pais.
Netflix has issued the following statement: “We are aware of the passing of Carlos Muñoz Portal, a well-respected location scout, and send our condolences to his family. The facts surrounding his death are still unknown as authorities continue to investigate.”