Kingdom of Shadows

Bernardo Ruiz

The stories of an activist, a drug enforcement special agent and a former drugs smuggler blend together in Kingdom of Shadows. It creates an intriguing image of the human side of the ongoing Mexican drug crisis and clearly depicts how it could derail so dramatically. A kaleidoscopic and layered image of the war on drugs.

According to official figures, over 26,000 people have gone ‘missing’ in Mexico since 2007. Many journalists and activists believe that the actual number is much higher. One of them is 67-year-old nun Consuelo Morales, who is making a case for the families of people who were murdered or disappeared in the violence surrounding the Mexican drug war. She is stationed in Monterrey, Mexico, once one of the safest cities in the world, but plagued by violence in the past decade.

Consuelo’s story is blended with the stories of Oscar Hagelsieb and Don Henry Ford, Jr. Hard-bitten and generously tattooed, Hagelsieb used to work undercover in a Mexican drug cartel and is now a drug enforcement special agent at the US-Mexico border. Ford is a farmer in Texas now, but used to smuggle drugs during the ‘Just Say No’ era in the US.

Through their stories, an intense impression is created of the human side of an ongoing crisis, eloquently revealing how the situation could derail so dramatically. The portraits of three protagonists are interspersed by clips of people whose lives are seriously affected by the war on drugs each and every day.


Bernardo Ruiz
Katia Maguire
Country of production
Mexico, United States
73 minutes
Spoken language
English, Spanish
Production company
Participant Media