The story of notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is headed to the screen… without Kate del Castillo or Sean Penn. History has put in development #Cartel, a drama series from Narcos co-creator Chris Brancato.

Chris Brancato 2016Written by Brancato, #Cartel will explore the global drug wars through the true story of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, called the most powerful drug lord in history. Described as a story of power, money, sex and the human cost of the drug wars, the drama will chronicle the kingpin’s rise to power, taking a look inside the stranger-than-fiction world of drug cartels who use social media to maintain their image, recruit new members and threaten rivals. Unlike drug lords of decades past, El Chapo, who reigned over the Mexican drug trafficking cartel for 25 years, has fan followings, with relationships in the entertainment and music industry that stretch past the Mexican border and into the United States.

“The show is a metaphor for the lives we present on the internet, the secret selves we reveal in supposedly private communication, and the risks of not-so-humble-bragging on social media,” Brancato said.

ChapoPennKateEl Chapo made big headlines in the U.S. in January with a bizarre story that emerged when he was captured after a six-month manhunt following his daring escape from a Mexican prison. Following his arrest, it was revealed that del Castillo, a famous Mexican TV actress, and Penn, had secretly met with the drug lord who had been looking for his story to be made into a movie. Penn ended up posting an interview with El Chapo for Rolling Stone, while del Castillo continues to hold the feature rights to El Chapo’s life, working on a potential movie.

History’s #Cartel is not going to be based on specific source material; it relies on historical research.

This marks one of History’s first major scripted moves under the network’s new president and GM Jana Bennett.

History Logo 2“As we expand the canvas of topics covered by History to include events of the recent past, we are pleased to be teaming with Chris Brancato on this project,’” said Bennett. “The true story of El Chapo, fraught with murder, drugs, corruption and celebrity, has been and continues to be one of the most disturbing and fascinating of the past decade. Chris is the perfect person to bring this slice of modern history to the screen.”

#Cartel is produced by ABC Signature, the cable/digital division of ABC Studios where Brancato has an overall deal, and A+E Studios. He segued to the ABC Studios pact after serving as co-creator/showrunner on the first season of Netflix’s drama series Narcos, which also tackles the drug cartels through the story of another infamous Latin American kingpin, Colombia’s Pablo Escobar.

Hannibal alum Brancato most recently served as showrunner on ABC/ABC Studios’ drama Of Kings and Prophets. 

Four months on, the story of the unlikely bedfellows, El Chapo, del Castillo and Penn, continues to attract media attention. Fox News Channel has one-hour special, Beauty & the Beast – When Kate met Chapo, hosted by Geraldo Rivera who interviews del Castillo, which will air this Saturday, May 7th.

On the feature side, Fox last year won an auction for the rights to The Cartel, the new Don Winslow drug epic about Mexican drug kingpin Adan Berrera, which Ridley Scott is attached to direct.