Mexico's drug gangs drive film crew out of town - Americas - World - The Independent

Mexico's drug gangs drive film crew out of town

Escalating violence is forcing Hollywood and US tourists to stay away. Guy Adams reports

Mexican drug cartels don't like rivals treading on their territory; they don't like the police poking around; and now, it seems, they don't much care for Hollywood taking an interest in their business.

Producers of a film about the murder of a cocaine smuggler, which would have starred Eva Mendes, Josh Hartnett and Sir Ben Kingsley, have been forced to abandon filming on the Mexican coast after the movie-makers received death threats.

Queen of the South, based on a novel by Arturo Perez-Reverte, was due to be filmed in Sinaloa, on the country's northern coast. But, following a decision by Jonathan Jakubowicz, its Venezuelan director, and two of his producers, the plug has now been pulled on the project. "I've worked really hard to make this beautiful movie, but the safety of my family and my team comes first," Jakubowicz told Variety. "Making this movie [would have] put us all at risk, not only in Mexico but in the US."

The news will heighten fears that Hollywood production, which has become a growing contributor to the Mexican economy, may disappear from the country, amid the surge in violence which has killed nearly 7,000 people in the past year. Jakubowicz and his family apparently received threats while at home in Los Angeles. The shaken film-maker this week warned colleagues to think twice before attempting to take on similar projects. "I beg those involved to be responsible and mindful of the dangerous territory the subject matter inevitably gets them into," he said.

"We wanted to shoot in the city of Culiacan in Sinaloa, northern Mexico, the epicentre of the drug wars, but it just wasn't possible. The world should pray for peace in Mexico."

Many other Hollywood producers, who may be tempted to shoot south of the border because of lower production costs and tax incentives, are also now starting to think twice. Security has been a growing problem since 2005, when Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas's Bordertown was forced to move production to New Mexico after its crew was followed and had their hotel rooms ransacked.

Last year, the makers of a Paramount film called El Traspatio (The Backyard) reported that an actress from Ciudad Juarez, where they were shooting, had found a slaughtered lamb on her doorstep, with a death threat pinned to it. She was replaced, for her own safety. Several other crew members on the film, about local drug murders, reported receiving sinister anonymous phone calls.

The jumpiness in Hollywood is bad news for the Mexican economy, which has been hit by the global downturn together with a precipitous decline in the tourist trade after the US State Department advised citizens against crossing the border. Free-spending foreign visitors are virtually absent from resorts such as Tijuana, which would in the past have been packed with revellers for spring break, when North American schools are closed for the week.

The escalating security problems, which have seen hundreds of gruesome public murders, are the result of a government crackdown on drug cartels which control the cocaine trade into the US, worth $5.5bn (£4bn) a year.

Although several drug cartel bosses have been arrested, rival groups are now battling over their former territories. Thousands of police officers, many with financial ties to cartels, have been killed. Army units are being brought in to patrol some border areas.

The US government is concerned that if the violence continues to spread, Mexico could acquire the label of "failed state". Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, who visited the country last week, publicly admitted that the security problems were being fuelled by the failure of the US to stem both the supply of drugs into its border areas, and the flow of weapons in the opposite direction.

Suggested Topics
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week