The real DEA Agent who hunted Pablo Escobar
SAN ANTONIO (KABB) -- Former DEA Agent Javier Pena is a Laredo native who now calls San Antonio home. His life is a Netflix hit.
“One thing I get from people is – ‘That didn't really happen,’” explains Pena. “It did happen.”
The former head of the DEA from Houston all the way down to the Mexican border also happens to be one two US agents who were attached to an elite Colombian group in charge of hunting down the most notorious narco terrorist of our times, Pablo Escobar.
Pena shared with our Yami Virgin some of what he lived in Colombia.
It was the late 80's when Javier Pena was sent from Austin to Colombia by the DEA to help take down the father of narco terrorism.
“It was 1988. I had done four years in Austin, Texas. So as soon as I land in Bogota, my boss says, ‘Javier, you're going to be responsible for the investigation of the Medellin Cartel led by Pablo Escobar,’” remembers Pena. “I had never heard of Pablo Escobar.”
Pena and his partner Steve Murphy lived and worked with an elite Colombian team whose mission was to end Escobar's reign of terror.
“I credit between 10-to-15,000 people that he [Pablo Escobar] was responsible for killing,” said Pena. “It was a very barbaric time in Colombia when he waged war.”
A war to fight being extradited to the United States for crimes that included the bombing of Avianca Flight 203 that killed 107 innocent people. The target was a presidential candidate, who at the last minute decided not to go on the flight.
“When we're going after him, you know, I'm going to say it, but it was based on revenge,” said Pena.
After they retired, Pena and Murphy shared their story with producer Eric Newman to create the Netflix drama ‘Narcos.’ but there was one catch.
“That Pablo Escobar would not be glamourized,” sad Pena. “And they guaranteed that they were not going to portray him as a hero.”
“There are books out there that have glorified what he did, which is pure evil,” said Narcos executive producer Eric Newman.
In his home here in San Antonio, Pena keeps mementos of this part of his life; of this part of history.
“License plate Pablo Escobar had on his car,” said Pena as he pointed to his collection. “Here is Pablo Escobar when he got killed.”
Last week Pena and Murphy met again on a Hollywood red carpet. A far cry from their days in Colombia.
Actor Pedro Pascual, famous for Game Of Thrones, plays Pena.
“This is a man who has been fighting for one thing for many years. He is very obsessed with his objective and this is the closest he has gotten - and we will see what he is capable of.”
“You know Pedro Pascual looked like me - back 30 years ago,” Pena said with a laugh. “Not anymore.”
Pena says he will never forget what he experienced in Colombia.
"Because of all the innocent people killed. I went to a lot of funerals. I had some great friends who were police officers that he had killed, so it was a personal war against Pablo Escobar.”
A tale Pena believes should serve as a warning - as the United States watches a similar war just south of San Antonio across our border.
“I've been asked, ‘What's the solution?’ It's not legalization. But the solution lies in the socialization process. Talking to the young kids. As long as there's a demand, there's going to be a supply.”
“The drug business is a business where you can take out the leadership. We took out Pablo Escobar, but did that take out trafficking? Absolutely not,” added Pena's DEA partner Steve Murphy.
As for his new found fame, Pena says he and Murphy are just enjoying the ride.
“I'm not sure what's going to happen or what they're going to do, but it's been fun. We've traveled a lot. We've talked to a lot of people. Done a lot of interviews. And I never thought this would have happened in 100 years.”