Cocaine Cowboys

Cocaine Cowboys is an older documentary, but one that shouldn’t be overlooked. It takes you through the transition from what was once “Innocent Miami” to one where it became a huge drug import destination.

Where once marijuana was the import of choice, it was then replaced by cocaine courtesy of Columbian connections.

Some local characters used to only dealing in marijuana jump on board as there was huge money to be made. So much so that they simply didn’t have anywhere to put it. There was too much money.

To transport drugs once they reached the shore, cars and boats would be essentially would be towed in an attempt to avoid any connection, if caught.

While the rest of the US was mired in recession, Miami was booming! Retailers wouldn’t ask where the money is from – they’d be more than happy to sell you that fancy car.

In terms of getting the operation running smoothly the interviewees simply say that “Everyone has a price” — i.e you could bribe anyone.

Once 1979 hit, the drug war began between the Columbians and Cubans. By the early 1980’s, Miami was the most violent city in the world.

Castro sent “undesirables” to the US and crime rates doubled. In response, the government hired more cops to hope to quell the violence. Of course, hiring too many police too quickly meant lower hiring standards and essentially opened the way for corrupt cops.

The documentary discusses a figure referred to as “The Godmother”. She was responsible for most of the violence between competing drug entities.

Ronald Regan, attempting to take control, then brings Federal agents to Miami and it seems to work as the murder rate declines. This he helped by The Godmother leaving Florida and moving to California. Eventually others would turn on her, the Godmother is captured, and the drug market declines. As this happens, businesses who reply on drug money spending close up shop.

Of interest, many of those making big money in the trade had their bank accounts in Panama. When Noriega was taken down, that money was then lost.

The end of the documentary discusses the effect this had on today’s Miami. Those interviewed state that “Drugs built half this city” [Miami] and that it wouldn’t be the city it is today without that drug war period taking place.

I enjoyed. It’s worth seeing.


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