The latest docuseries from VH1 is somewhat controversial. Cartel Crew follows the lives of young adults who grew up in families of Columbian drug ring members. It’s similar to Mob Wives but certainly grittier. While these young adults show that they are trying to break from the organized crime they grew up with and start legitimate businesses, it sometimes feels as if they are also capitalizing on their notorious families. Cartel Crew premiered on VH1 on January 7.
Here are 10 things you didn’t know about VH1’s Cartel Crew.
1. The Premise
Cartel Crew follows the lives of young adults living in the United States of America whose family members were tied to the world of drug cartels. The cast of Cartel Crew are somewhat interconnected and can relate to each other as they try to move past their notorious roots and start fresh new legal lives. In the meantime, each comes face to face with his or her families’ involvement in organized crime. As they each go about their new endeavors, tensions are obvious between cast members. Of course, that’s what most realty television is about.
The trailer for Cartel Crew emphasized the tension that grows among the cast, especially the ladies. Strong personalities compete against each other. There also is the issue that the cast of Cartel Crew sometimes seem to be glorifying the organized crime they each grew up with. Although each appears to be trying to start over and move past the illegal actions they witnessed in their families, at times it does appear that the cast members are still bound to their past and sometimes use it to capitalize on their new ventures.
3. Griselda Blanco
The now deceased Griselda Blanco plays a big role in Cartel Crew. Her son Michael Corleone Blanco is a cast member on Cartel Crew and apparently trying to create a legal business and separate ties with his infamous criminal family. Griselda Blanco was known as the “Cocaine Godmother. She was a member of the Medellín Cartel which was headed by the notorious Pablo Escobar. Griselda is said to have killed over 200 people and was considered ruthless. Her son Michael had to take care of the family when Griselda was sent to federal prison in the United States of America. Upon her return to Columbia in 2012, Griselda was assassinated.
4. Michael Corleone Blanco
Griselda Blanco’s son Michael Corleone Blanco was named for the 1070’s book and movie “The Godfather” character’s mob boss Michael Corleone played by Al Pacino. Michael even has a tattoo of his namesake. Although Michael is trying to move past his family’s illegal roots, he brings it up as much as he can in Cartel Crew. He often mentions his mother whose image appears in his clothing line. Michael claims to have buried 22 family members including his mom and two of his brothers and says he wants nothing more than to let go of his past and start anew.
5. Marie Ramirez De Arellano
Marie Ramirez De Arellano is Michael Corleone Blanco’s girlfriend and business partner. She also has mob roots in her family. Her father was a member of the Cartel. Marie works closely with Michael as they attempt to start their new clothing line and business Pure Blanco. She defends Michael and supports him as both claim to be moving forward into legitimate business after being exposed to the worst of the underground world.
6. Pure Blanco
Pure Blanco is the clothing line and business venture of Michael Blanco and his girlfriend Marie De Arellano. Not only does the name have connotations to the world of a drug lord, most of the clothing features the image of Michael’s mother Griselda Blanco and the slogan “Badass like Griselda”. As with most realty shows, Cartel Crew plays up the image of the business with its connection to the world of drug trade. In one scene, Michael and Marie meet a Pure Blanco employee in a dark parking lot at night to go through samples in the trunk of his car. It’s set up similar to what one might imagine is a secret drug deal.
7. Katherine “Tatu Baby” Flora
Katherine Flora is another main character in Cartel Crew and a friend of Marie De Arellano. Like Michael Blanco and Mariea, Katherine is trying to expand her business and leave behind the connection to her criminal family. Katherine’s dad was a drug kingpin in Queens, New York who died when Katherine was just 4 years old. Katherine “Tatu Baby” runs a Miami, Florida tattoo parlor which she is trying to grow into an empire. In the meantime, the father of Kat’s son is serving prison time on drug related charges. Kat’s desire to move past the illegal connections of her past causes conflict with her ex boyfriend.
8. Stephanie Acevedo and Loz
Stephanie Acevedo is a friend of Katherine Flora’s. She also has connections to the illegal world of drug trade. Stephanie’s dad was a Miami based drug smuggler many years ago. Loz is another friend of Katherine Flora’s. Loz works with Katherine at her tattoo parlor. Although Loz appears in Cartel Crew, he never reveals if or how he has relations to a drug cartel. Another cast member is Dayana Castellanos. Dayana’s ex husband served time in jail for drug related charges.
9. Michael and Nicole Zavela
Michael and Nicole Zavela are twins who claim to have family members who were tied to organized crime. Despite their connections to a cartel, the pair must prove to the other cast members what their affiliation is. A lot of Cartel Crew’s drama relies on tensions between the cast members.
10. What to Expect
As each cast member tries to move forward and realize their dreams through the season of Cartel Crew, each must confront their past and each seem to have a sense of pride in their past affiliations. Expect a lot of drama between the cast members. In the premier episode we already saw a big blow out between Marie, Stephanie and Kat against the Zavela twins who are reluctant to expose their connections to the cartel. We’ll also see the cast take a trip to Medellín, Columbia. Cartel Crew is certain to be filled with drama and tense moments.