La Reina del Sur (The Queen of the South) is a Spanish-language telenovela produced by the American television network Telemundo, in conjunction with the Antena 3 network and RTI Producciones.
Based on a novel of the same name by Spanish author Arturo Pérez-Reverte, the drama depicts the rise of Teresa Mendoza (Kate del Castillo), a young woman from Mexico who becomes the most powerful drug trafficker in southern Spain.
El Güero has been dabbling in his own trade, which is starting to cut into the cartel's profits, and is killed on the order of Epifanio Vargas (Humberto Zurita), the leader of the cartel. Teresa is unaware that El Güero's death was ordered by Vargas, mistakenly believing that he was killed by rivals in the organization.
She trades El Güero's business ledger to Vargas in exchange for his help fleeing the country.
Arriving in Spain, Teresa is referred to work for Driss Larby, a businessman and low-level underworld operator in the Spanish enclave of Melilla on the North African coast.
On the ferry, she meets Fátima Mansur, a prostitute who works at Driss' bar "El Yamilla." Teresa proves herself to be an invaluable asset by balancing Driss' books every night.
Teresa meets Santiago Fisterra (Iván Sanchez), a Galician ("El Gallego") who works smuggling black market goods such as cigarettes across the strait of Gibraltar into Spain, and his friend Lalo.
Teresa and Santiago begin dating, while Lalo dates Teresa's coworker Soraya.
Knowing that Santiago is unhappy working the small time, Teresa arranges with Colonel Abdelkader Chaïb (Eduardo Velasco) to get Santiago into the hashish trade.
The trade provides huge profits, and Teresa and Santiago move to Málaga.
A year later, Driss Larby is still smarting from Teresa's abandonment, and conspires with a Spanish Naval Officer, Cañagotas (Julio Pachón), who is on Chaïb's payroll, to have Santiago busted during a major drug run.
Instead, Santiago crashes his boat into rocks at high speed and is killed, while Teresa is thrown free, arrested, and sent to jail.
Santiago's crooked lawyer, Eddy Alvarez (Carlos Diez), subsequently liquidates all of Santiago and Teresa's property and spends it on his mistress.