Pablo Escobar’s 71-year-old brother, Roberto de Jesus Escobar Gaviria, has sued Netflix for $1 billion over a copyright claim against Narcos, the Hollywood Reporter reports.
The lawsuit was filed last year by Escobar Inc., a company owned by Gaviria, and took issue with Netflix’s use of Pablo Escobar’s name and story without permission.
Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter from his home in Colombia, Gaviria was frank about his dislike of the concept of the Netflix show.
“I don’t want Netflix or any other film production company to film any movies in Medellin or Colombia that relates to me or my brother Pablo without authorization from Escobar Inc.,” Gaviria said. “It is very dangerous. Especially without our blessing. This is my country.”
“Netflix are scared,” he said, specifically referring to his legal battle against the streaming platform. “They sent us a long letter to threaten us. Right now, we are in discussions… to obtain our $1 billion payment,” he continued.
“If we don’t receive it, we will close their little show.”
The “long letter” Gaviria is referring to was written by lawyers for Narcos Productions, LLC (NPL), the company behind the Netflix series and the popular video game spinoff Narcos: Cartel Wars. The letter claimed Gaviria attempted to register trademarks in August 2016 for “Narcos” and “Cartel Wars” for a range of goods and services. The lawyers contend that this attempt was “fraudulent.”
“For example,” wrote NPL lawyer Jill M. Pietrini, “Escobar [Inc.] claims that it has used ‘Narcos’ in connection with things like ‘operating a website’ and ‘game services provided online from a computer network’ since Jan. 31, 1986. However, the internet had not been developed for widespread consumer use in 1986, nor was the capability to provide audiovisual works nor game services available at that time.”
Gaviria doesn’t sound too bothered, though. “I don’t play around with these people in Silicon Valley. They have their phones and nice products. But they don’t know life and would never dare to survive in the jungle of Medellin or Colombia. I have done that,” Gaviria continued.
Gaviria also commented on the recent death of a Netflix location scout in Mexico. “Netflix should provide hitmen to their people as security,” he suggested.
When Pablo Escobar was at the height of his control of the Medellin cartel, Gaviria worked as the most important accountant and “head of the hitmen.” Despite this past and his threatening language towards Netflix, Gaviria spoke to VICE in 2014 and claimed the cartel life “was all behind” him, insisting: “I do good now.” As an example of such good, he explained how he “has gained valuable medical knowledge while caring for expensive horses, and used that knowledge to find a cure for HIV.”