Queen of the South is now in its fourth season on Netflix and the series is based on a novel of the same name by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. The series follows the rise of Teresa Mendoza (played by Alice Braga), a poor Mexican woman who builds a drug empire to earn money. Fans are keen to know whether Teresa Mendoza was inspired by a real person, and Express.co.uk has everything you need to know.
Is Teresa Mendoza based on a real person?
In the series, fans are first introduced to Teresa Mendoza when she is living in Sinaloa, Mexico, as the girlfriend of a drug dealer.
He ends up being murdered and Mendoza is forced to flee to the US to avoid being hunted down by her boyfriend’s cartel.
In order to earn her keep and build a life for herself in America, she starts working for another drug cartel.
Mendoza slowly works her way up the ranks, until she finally becomes one of the most influential cartel bosses in the business.
Her character was in fact inspired by Sandra Ávila Beltrán, who was known as the “Queen of the Pacific”, and she was one of the first female drug traffickers to reach the top of the ranks.
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Beltrán found herself in a rare spot as cartel boss was usually a position held by men.
She was born in Mexico and was related to Rafael Caro Quintero, the former leader of the Guadalajara Cartel who is depicted in the series Narcos: Mexico.
Creators of Queen of the South also said they took inspiration from the Narcos series, which explains the Mexican cartel link.
Drug trafficking was a popular occupation for her family, and she was known to form relationships with other well-known drug traffickers.
Like Mendoza’s character in Queen of the South, Beltrán avoided leaving any evidence of her crimes.
However, she was arrested in September 2007 and was charged with organised crime and conspiracy to drug trafficking.
Some of her original charges were dropped, but she was held on possession of illegal weapons and money laundering.
She was extradited to the US to answer to the charges in front of the US Government.
According to CNN the Queen of the Pacific was released from prison in 2015, following an appeal.
They said: “Authorities never convicted her of any drug-trafficking crimes, but prosecutors have said Ávila was once a key link in the drug trade between Colombia and Mexico.
“A 2008 U.S. congressional Research Service report described her as ‘a senior member of the Sinaloa cartel who was instrumental’ in building ties with Colombian traffickers.”
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Teresa Mendoza herself is not based on a real person, as she is simply the character of a book, but she was inspired by Beltrán and there are many similarities.
Other reports suggest her involvement with drug cartels was inspired by the real-life Jalisco New Generation Cartel in Mexico.
María del Carmen Albarrán García was the female leader of the cartel, and she was known as La Cecy.
While some fans believe Mendoza’s character was based on La Cecy, she is most likely to have been based on Beltrán, who had a similar nickname.
Beltrán has inspired other characters, including Isabella Bautista in the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico.
The female drug boss has had a huge influence in the world of music, TV and film, with Los Tucanes de Tijuana writing a folk ballad paying homage to the Queen of the Pacific.
There is also a song called La Reina del Sur, which is based on the story of Teresa Mendoza.
Beltrán later published a book called The Queen of the Pacific: Time to Talk, which was based on prison interviews she gave to a Mexican journalist.
The author of La Reina del Sur, by Pérez-Reverte, said the story was based on certain points of Beltrán’s life.
Queen of the South is available to watch on Netflix now