The 71-year-old brother of deceased drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, Roberto de Jesus Escobar Gaviria, is suing Netflix for a billion dollars, alleging copyright infringement involving their Escobar-focused drama series Narcos.
Gaviria filed the lawsuit last year through his company Escobar Inc., suing the streaming giant for using Pablo Escobar’s name and story without permission. “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, speaking to the Hollywood Reporter from Colombia. “It is very dangerous. Especially without our blessing. This is my country.”
“Netflix is scared,” Gaviria continued. “They sent us a long letter to threaten us. Right now, we are in discussions… to obtain our $1 billion payment. If we don’t receive it, we will close their little show.” When Pablo Escobar controlled the notorious Medellin drug cartel in the late 80s, and was responsible for smuggling over 80% of all US cocaine into the country and killing thousands of people in the process, Gaviria functioned as an important accountant and hitman for his brother’s operation.
A lawyer for Narcos Productions, LLC, did indeed send Gaviria a letter, alleging that his claim that he’d trademarked terms associated with his brother’s life and the Narcos show were fraudulent. “For example,” wrote Narcos Productions 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.”
“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 said.