ZeroZeroZero (2020)

Based on Roberto Saviano’s book, the 8 part series ZeroZeroZero takes a look at the drug trade through the lens of production to delivery. We are not talking about street sales, no we are talking about the shipment of millions of dollars worth of drugs.

The series begins in Calabria, Italy with the emergence of frail, elderly Don Minu (Adriano Chiaramida) from his spartan, yet high-tech under-ground bunker. Don Minu emerges to offer a deal to a rival family. He will buy a large amount of cocaine and offer it at a specified price to his enemies. Don Minu’s grandson, Stefano (Giuseppe De Domenico) isn’t keen on his grandfather’s meeting with his rivals, and while at first this seems like concern, it becomes clear that Stefano hates his grandfather and plots his downfall.

Then in Monterrey Mexico, the Leyra brothers, Jacinto (Flavio Medina) and Enrique (Víctor Huggo Martin) distribute cocaine while hosting lavish parties at their magnificent mansion/compound and whooping it up at the finest restaurants. But the special forces are hot on the trail of the Leyra brothers, determined to bring them down. While capturing and torturing narcos may yield info about the Leyras, they always manage to slip away. ….

Manuel (Harold Torres), a stone-faced church-goer leads his elite squad in his hunt for the Leyras. But Manuel has another agenda which gradually becomes clearer as the series continues.

So we have buyers in Italy and sellers in Mexico. The American Lynwood family, patrirach Edward (Gabriel Byrne) and his 2 adult children, Chris (Dane DeHaan) and Emma (Andrea Riseborough) are brokers, and they broker a deal between Don Minu and the Leyras with the proviso that the large shipment of cocaine will be transported via one of their freighters.

But it’s a long way from Italy to Mexico and things immediately begin to go wrong. …

This is a brilliant and brutal multi-faceted look at the drug trade. At the top of the food chain are the Leyras who are secure and smugly self-assured, and we see their operations at the street level and in the cocaine prep factories where women stripped down to their underwear, package the white powder. Class plays a huge role in this section of the tale with the fat-cat Leyras lording it over those they consider their social inferiors.

It’s fascinating to see the Italian side of things with rival families intent on vengeance. What’s up with all the pigs and for the squeamish, be warned there’s a graphic scene involving a pig slaughter.

The episodes go back and forth between Italy, Mexico and the US, but as the drugs are transported and dangerous complications arise, the focus shifts to Senegal and Morocco.

While we get into the depths of human character, Chris for example, suffers from Huntington’s disease, the emphasis here is power, profit and control. Many lower level characters are executed or killed as the cocaine makes its way to Italy, and there’s the sense that these people, some soldiers in the war on drugs, narcos, and innocent bystanders are all grist for the drug trade. These are people who are willing, or desperate enough to take terrible risks for the money that dribbles their way. Corruption cannibalizes all.

There are a couple of times, incidents take place and there’s a temptation to think that this or that wouldn’t happen, but all I’ll say is that if things seem improbable, it’s only because this jaw-dropping story hasn’t finished yet …

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