In the riveting Narco-song of Sinaloa, RT Documentary travels to Culiacan, the epicenter for the most powerful and dangerous drug cartel in the world.
The allure of festive religious gatherings and soothing balladeers cannot mask the perilous environment that surrounds them on all sides. The drug business is the only lucrative option for many of the city's residents, but those who accept its enticements are often forced to pay the ultimate price. Laborers find constant, but low paying work building heavily secured tombs in the local cemetery. Crosses are strewn throughout the city to commemorate the dead.
Thousands have fled the city out of fear for their lives. Even if these refugees don't experience a direct threat from the drug lords themselves, they feel violated by the government special forces who randomly raid their homes in search of them. About 15% of citizens are victims of cartel violence. Even so, some heap praise on the most successful drug players for financing roads and electricity in the most impoverished areas.
It's an area of relaxed beauty, but terror may strike at any moment. The documentary crew experiences this dichotomy firsthand during a dangerous exchange with armed men late in the film. The area is particularly inhospitable for snooping members of the media, and this tension is felt throughout the film. Journalists who dare to cast a sharply critical eye on the local drug scene have been known to disappear.
In an impromptu moment, the film crew stops random people on the street and asks them if they've personally experienced any negative impacts from the reigning cartel. Most admit to having lost a loved one due to drug violence.
The filmmakers also explore the reality for local marijuana growers. These farmers play a never-ending game of cat and mouse with local authorities, and their operations have suffered diminishing returns since parts of the U.S. legalized the drug.
Finally, Narco-song of Sinaloa offers a new twist in its cultural exploration of the region. The viewer is given a primer on the musicians whose songs reflect the live fast and die young way of life for those who enter the drug business.