- Judy Moncada, a fictional character in Narcos, becomes a drug lord seeking revenge against Pablo Escobar after he kills her husband.
- She forms the organization Los Pepes to take down Escobar and seizes his cocaine labs, weakening his grip on the drug trade.
- Judy’s story is inspired by the real formation of Los Pepes, although her character is not based on a real person.
Judy Moncada is one of the many characters in Narcos who helps to flesh out the epic story of the Medellín Cartel and the drug business in the Americas. Narcos premiered in 2015 on Netflix and ran for three seasons, covering the rise of Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) as he’s pursued by DEA agents Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) and Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal). Narcos‘ first two seasons depict Escobar’s life and subsequent death while season 3 follows the aftermath of his passing and the rise of the Cali Cartel. The series then pivoted to the three-season spinoff Narcos: Mexico.
Narcos takes plenty of historical liberties in its storytelling and many characters are fictional and created just for the series, or they are an amalgamation of real people. Even when these characters don’t have real-world counterparts, they still serve an important function, painting a picture of the repercussions that Escobar created in building his empire. Judy Moncada is one of these Narcos characters whose motivations directly result from Escobar’s brutality.
Judy Moncada Is A Drug Lord In Narcos
Judy Moncada (née Mendoza) is a drug lord in season 1 and season 2 of Narcos and one of the most dangerous characters in the series. Her appearance in Narcos season 1 is limited to one guest appearance in episode 9, “La Catedral”, but she becomes a main character in season 2, appearing in all but one episode. Judy is the wife of one of Escobar’s top lieutenants, Gerardo Moncada (Christian Tappán). Escobar kills Gerardo in season 1 for stealing from him, and his brutal death sets Judy on a warpath that eventually leads to Escobar’s downfall. Judy, who Escobar accuses of over-ambition, proves him correct in season 2.
In Narcos season 2, Judy swears revenge against Escobar and breaks away from the Medellín Cartel alongside her brother Jaime Mendoza (Steven Salcedo) and the Medellín Cartel’s security chief Diego Murillo Bejarano (Mauricio Cujar). She and her splinter group begin seizing Escobar’s cocaine labs. Judy ramps up her pressure when she contacts the Cali Cartel and offers to unite with them to push Escobar out, forming the Los Pepes organization. This has her intended effect. Escobar’s grip on the drug trade is loosened, and he enters a death spiral that eventually sees him killed by the DEA, and the Medellín Cartel is split.
However, unbeknownst to Judy, the Cali Cartel has been secretly working against her, and once Escobar is gone, they turn on Judy, giving her drug stashes to the right-wing paramilitary organization, the AUC. After surviving an assassination attempt from the AUC, Judy is caught between becoming an informant for the DEA and living in America, or remaining in Colombia. Her choice to flee to the United States marks a change in the series. Most of the old guard of the Colombian drug trade have died, gone into hiding, or now fled, leaving the Cali Cartel and even more brutal drug traffickers to fill the power gap.
Like many in Narcos, Judy allowed her animosity toward Escobar to cloud her judgment. The series is filled with characters who are so singularly focused on Escobar and Medellín that they ignore signs that there are other dangers growing in their periphery. Fortunately for Judy, she makes the correct decision to leave the trade altogether, saving her life.
Is Judy Moncada Based On A Real Person?
Judy Moncada is not based on a real person but the main thrust of her story, the formation of Los Pepes, is based in reality. Los Pepes was an organization formed by the many enemies of Pablo Escobar, set up to defeat the drug kingpin and take over his operations. Most of what is shown regarding the formation of Los Pepes in Narcos is accurate, save for Judy. Gerardo Moncada was indeed killed by Escobar, and his death set off the creation of Los Pepes, but his wife does not appear in the historical record of the group’s formation.
In reality, it was Carlos and Fidel Castaño Gil who approached the Cali Cartel to help fund their paramilitary organization. Carlos (Mauricio Mejía) and Fidel (Gustavo Angarita Jr.) are major characters in Narcos season 2 and like in the show, the real men operated as vigilantes who caused as much destruction and pain as the man they were hunting. Just like in Narcos, after Escobar was shot, Los Pepes laid down their arms, resulting in a gaping power vacuum.
While Judy was not an actual member of this group, an organization with a name derived from “Los Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar” (“People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar”) would certainly include the disaffected family members of the many people killed by Escobar and Medellín. Judy makes an appropriate stand-in for these unnamed characters.
Cristina Umaña Plays Judy Moncada
Judy Moncada is played by Cristina Umaña in Narcos seasons 1 and 2. Umaña is a Colombian actor who first began appearing in telenovelas in 1995. Her early interest in acting led Umaña to Mexico, where she studied at the Center for Artistic Education, Televisa, the organization within the production company she worked for (via Stark Times). After her time studying in Mexico, she returned to Colombia to pursue acting full-time. One of her early major gigs came in the telenovela series Yo amo a Paquita Gallego, where she starred as the title character for the entire series, 150 episodes.
Where Else You’ve Seen Cristina Umaña
While most of Umaña’s career has been in Spanish-language movies and television shows, her part in Narcos as Judy Moncada introduced her to a wider audience. Since her time on the Netflix series, Umaña has appeared in more high-profile TV shows. She plays Daniela León in Wild District, Netflix’s first Colombian original series, which follows a guerrilla fighter after the end of the Colombian conflict in 2016. This conflict has some of its complex history buried in the same time period as Narcos.
Umaña also appears in Amazon Prime Video’s Jack Ryan, starring John Krasinski. There, she plays Gloria Bonalde, a main character in Jack Ryan season 2. Bonalde is a major contender for the upcoming Venezuelan presidential election against the strongman incumbent President Nicholas Reyes (Jordi Molla). Umaña hasn’t appeared in many more productions since Narcos, but her clear talent in these roles surely means she will have a major new project soon.
Where To Watch Narcos