Press releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today asked VH1 to cancel Cartel Crew, which glorifies the lives of people with ties to the worst drug lords in history.  The latest cast addition is Emma Coronel Aispuro, who is married to the now imprisoned leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.

“For the life of me, I cannot understand why VH1 would cast Emma Aispuro when families across the U.S. struggle daily with drug addiction.  Her husband is a monster, who was once the second most wanted fugitive in the world behind Osama bin Laden.  She helped him escape from prison, acted as his public relations manager, laughed in court during his trial and now wants to sell clothing stamped with the El Chapo name,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “VH1 is promoting her as a loyal wife who stood by the biggest drug trafficker of our time.  They’re glorifying a brutal, deadly lifestyle that creates countless victims.  This is the most irresponsible thing I’ve ever seen.”

Sen. Kennedy’s letter to VH1 is copied below:

November 13, 2019

Mr. Chris McCarthy
President, VH1
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

Dear Mr. McCarthy:

I am writing to urge you to cancel the show Cartel Crew and to refrain from producing any similar series. The entire premise of the show is disturbing as it glorifies drug cartels and those who live in luxury off the wealth these criminal groups corruptly amass. I am extremely concerned youth in Louisiana and across the country will watch this show and come to believe that crime pays, which is the grossly irresponsible message you are sending.

VH1 describes Cartel Crew as a docuseries that follows relatives of cartel leaders as “they set out to live legit lives and make names for themselves outside of the drug world.” The words and deeds of the featured individuals suggests otherwise. A regular source of contention between cast members is how closely they are connected to cartels, with each one trying to one-up the next. One cast member is even ostracized for her familial connection to a New York City police officer–as if an association with a law enforcement officer is a bad thing.

When asked about her crimes, cast member Michael Blanco said “my mother didn’t have a choice” due to the fact that she grew up poor. Blanco’s mother is Griselda Blanco, better known as “Cocaine Godmother,” a drug lord in the Medellin Cartel who was responsible for nearly two-hundred murders while transporting cocaine from Colombia to the U.S. in the 1990s and early 2000s. This is history that cannot be rationally excused for any reason whatsoever. Blanco also launched a clothing line that features his mother’s photo on merchandise, and regularly refers back to his cartel connections when it benefits him. His actions demonstrate zero interest in fully separating from his criminal past.

Your most recent addition to the cast, Emma Coronel Aispuro, is the most startling and tone deaf choice. Aispuro is the wife of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, better known as “El Chapo.” El Chapo is the single most dangerous individual of our time, having created and led the Sinaloa Cartel on its destructive path of trafficking drugs and people for decades. Since establishing his crime syndicate in the late 1980s, El Chapo has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, both through direct violence and the devastating impact of drug addiction. At one point in time, El Chapo was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s World’s Most Wanted Fugitives List, second only to Osama bin Laden. Aispuro has shown no remorse or regret for the destruction the Sinaloa Cartel (her husband specifically) has caused, as she continues to operate at a high level in the crime syndicate. In 2015, she directed and facilitated El Chapo’s escape from a Mexican prison, leading her to come under federal investigation in the U.S. for conspiracy. Furthermore, she is currently working on developing a fashion line called “El Chapo Guzman,” invoking her husband’s most well-known moniker in order to increase her personal earnings. Aispuro clearly intends to profit from the notoriety her cartel connections afford her. By adding her to the show, VH1 is complicit in her scheme to benefit off the exploitation and abuse of the thousands of Sinaloa Cartel victims.

On one hand, cast members of Cartel Crew claim to be liberated from their past, yet they invoke their families’ names and sinister histories whenever it proves beneficial. VH1 has the obligation to be a responsible steward of public media. This show is an offense to anyone, anywhere who has been affected by illegal drugs and the people who supply them. By using the bloodstained histories of these individuals to make and profit off a television series, you are complicit in the promotion of a horrifically criminal and violent way of life. It is clear you need to reconsider the standard your network uses when developing television shows.

It is past time for Cartel Crew to be cancelled. It should have never been created in the first place.


John Kennedy

U.S. Senator

cc: Mr. Robert Bakish, President and CEO, Viacom