for the Princeton Times

PRINCETON — Local police officers ended 2018 with a surprise when a former Bluefield police officer who later played a role in bringing the world’s wealthiest and most notorious narco-terrorist to justice stopped by their station for a visit.

Princeton Police Chief T.A. Gray met Steve Murphy, a former member of the Bluefield Police Department, last March while attending a conference in St. Augustine, Fla. They became friends, so Murphy visited with Gray while stopping in Mercer County for Christmas.

“We had breakfast yesterday morning (Dec. 7) and I asked him to come by Princeton PD and meet the guys,” Gray recalled. “He’s an awesome person. Very caring, easy to get along with and very intelligent. We just made small talk about the series and his career.”

Murphy started his law enforcement career at the Bluefield Police Department and later became a member of the DEA. He was transferred to Colombia where he worked with his partner, Javier Pena, while helping end the career of Pablo Escobar and the reign of the murderous Medellin Cartel. Murphy’s experiences later became the inspiration for the Netflix series “Narcos.”

Escobar used his vast wealth – estimated between $8 billion to $30 million – to attack rivals and create a Robin Hood image for himself among Colombia’s poor. At one point, Escobar ran for seat in Colombia’s Congress and won a seat as an alternate congressman, but he later resigned after being denounced as a drug trafficker. The man who accused him was later killed, Murphy recalled in earlier interviews with the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Murphy and Pena joined in the search after Escobar escaped from prison, sometimes missing him by minutes and finding his coffee still hot. Escobar was finally tracked down when he spent too much time on a cellphone call. He was shot and killed by Colombian National Police when he tried to escape from his hideout through a third-story window and onto the roof of a neighboring house.

Murphy said Friday that he was visiting home for Christmas and met with friends. Gray showed him around Princeton new municipal complex where he met City Manager Mike Webb and other city employees before meeting the police officers who were on duty. He also took time to say what was happening with the series “Narcos.”

“My character was portrayed in seasons one and two, and my partner was in seasons one, two and three,” Murphy said.

“Narcos” is now in season four, but its title has been changed to “Narcos: Mexico.” This season is now out, and season five is being written, Murphy stated. Murphy and Pena’s characters are not in these new seasons, but they helped arrange for the show’s creators to meet real-life DEA agents who are the featured characters.

One of the new central characters is based on the late DEA agent Enrique “KiKi” Camarena, who was abducted and killed by Mexican drug traffickers in 1985. Camarena’s death was highlighted in the first season of “Narcos,” so now his story will be told. Camarena’s supervisor, Jaime Kuykendall, will be in the story along with his boss, Ed Heath, Murphy said.

Murphy also said he was working with the Princeton Police Department and the city on a possible “surprise” for the community in 2019, but the planning was tentative at this time.

“It would be for Mercer County, Tazewell County, Bland County area and anybody else who wanted to come,” he said