Netflix's 'Who Killed Sara?' Has Some Similarities to Real World Mexican Drug Cartels

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Anna Grace Lee
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Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Spoilers follow for Who Killed Sara Season One.

At first glance, Netflix's latest hit thriller Who Killed Sara? seems like it could be a true crime story. The mystery is simple; it's in the name, after all, and we want to know the truth just as much as the characters do. We as viewers are all wondering the same thing as our protagonist, Alex, and rooting for him as he goes to great lengths to uncover the truth about his sister's death. Netflix clips from the show feature Alex with his investigation board and his double-monitor computer setup, not unlike what you'd see in a serious investigation of a real, true-to-life crime. Aspects of the Lazcano family and their crime-ridden lives may sound familiar to fans, even ripped from the headlines or history. So you may be wondering, is Who Killed Sara? based on a true story?

The short answer is: no. As horrifically real as some of the acts and crimes depicted in the show are—like murder, kidnapping, and sex trafficking—the specific story of Alex, Sara, and the Lazcano family is entirely fictional. There are, however, some connections between fiction and reality, like the "Lazcano" name and the filming locations that brought Who Killed Sara? to life on our laptop screens.

Are the Lazcanos real?

Though the Lazcano family at the center of Who Killed Sara?'s world of mystery, lies, and betrayal are fictional characters, they do share their last name with a real-life person, with whom some fans of the show may already be familiar. Born in 1974, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano was a powerful Mexican drug lord and leader of the Los Zetas drug cartel. Originally trained as a soldier, Lazcano quit the Mexican army in the 1990s and was recruited by the Gulf cartel as one of the original members of enforcer group Los Zetas which later broke away and became their own organization. Over the years, Lazcano Lazcano's infamous and unimaginably brutal torture methods earned him the nickname 'The Executioner.' Lazcano Lazcano died in a shootout with the Mexican Navy in October 2012.

There are some light parallels between Lazcano Lazcano and the patriarch of the fictional Lazcano family in terms of power, influence, and crimes committed, but the story in Who Killed Sara? is entirely fictional.

Where is the show set in real life?

Most of Who Killed Sara? was shot in Mexico City, where the fictional Lazcano family rests at the top of social and financial life, running a successful casino and resort business. Part of the show was filmed in the coastal resort city of Acapulco, which is affected in real life by high rates of crime and cartel activity. It is reportedly one of the most violent cities in the world. So while, unfortunately, some of the crimes and violence depicted in Who Killed Sara? happen in real life in some of the areas where the show is set, the Netflix show's storyline is a work of fiction. This means there are no true crime articles to read to find out what happens next, in the new season. Come May 19, you'll just have to watch to find out who really killed Sara.

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