Heard on the Hill

Kennedy calls for removal of VH1 series ‘Cartel Crew’

In letter, Louisiana senator says reality show is ’glorifying a brutal, deadly lifestyle’

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., sent a letter to VH1 requesting the cancellation of “Cartel Crew.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A 67-year-old senator isn’t the first person that comes to mind when one thinks about “reality TV” backlash, but at the tail end of 2019, weirder things have happened.

Sen. John Kennedy’s office released a letter Thursday asking VH1 to cancel “Cartel Crew,” a show that follows the journeys of relatives of cartel members who “set out to live legit lives and make names for themselves outside of the drug world,” according to the show’s website.

The Louisiana Republican learned of the show, now in its second season, a week ago before a meeting with Jim Carroll, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, according to the senator’s office.

[How John Kennedy Sees Things]

“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,” Kennedy wrote to VH1 President Chris McCarthy in a letter dated Nov. 13. He raises concerns that “youth in Louisiana and across the country will watch this show and come to believe that crime pays.”

The senator made the request after learning the show would be adding Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, to its cast, which “piqued” his concern. Kennedy calls the decision “startling” and “tone deaf.”

“Glorifying drug trafficking & cartels isn't just wrong, it’s sickening,” Kennedy said Thursday in a tweet.

“Louisiana is a major drug corridor,” Kennedy told HOH in an email, adding that opioid addiction is a national crisis. “People who enjoy the spoils of trafficking lethal drugs through the United States should not be glamorized on a TV show.”

Among the show's cast members is Michael Blanco, son of the late Griselda Blanco (aka the “Cocaine Godmother” and “Black Widow”), a murderous drug lord in Colombia’s infamous Medellín cartel who was murdered in 2012.

VH1 has not responded to HOH’s request for comment.

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