Cocaine Cowboys is a 2006 documentary film about the cocaine drug trade and its rise in the city of Miami, Florida during the 1970’s and 80’s. The documentary was directed by Billy Corben and produced by the media studio Rakontur owned by Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman. The documentary features countless interviews offering a perspective into the Miami drug war from all available sides – gang members, drug smugglers, journalists, lawyers and law enforcement officers.
The documentary talks about how in the early 1970’s, cocaine replaced marijuana as the in drug. Cocaine trade quickly became a lucrative gig but as the imports grew, the price dropped and the drug became so popular, even the blue collar, middle class workers did it all the time.
Interviews with former drug smugglers reveal the sophistication of their methods of importation of cocaine to Florida. Earnings were used to purchase legitimate businesses the purpose of which was to whitewash the illegal operations. Smugglers had their homes equipped with high-tech radio monitoring devices used to monitor the radio frequencies of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Condos they used as posts for monitoring Coast Guard and police patrol boats were strategically positioned near particular ocean waterways.
The importers made so much money smuggling cocaine into Miami, they sometimes had difficulties storing all the cash they’d earned. That lead to establishments of ties with Manuel Noriega in Panama and carpet buying of entire neighborhoods of houses and other investments.
The documentary also reveals how during the cocaine boom, when all the rest of America was experiencing recession, Miami was flourishing with businesses thriving so well, Rolex could not keep up with the demand for gold plated, diamonds encrusted watches and luxury car makers with deliveries of expensive, bulletproof models.
Obviously, although cocaine trade was illegal, it lead to vast amounts of money being put into legitimate businesses and with it the business sectors thrived. The film suggests that many modern southern Florida high rises were indirectly financed with drug money. And then when the law enforcement caught up with the tactics of the smugglers and cracked down on the market, driving many major players out of Miami, sales started to plummet and previously thriving businesses to close.
Another thing that goes hand in hand with drug trafficking is gang related violence. That’s when the infamous Colombian drug lord dubbed The Cocaine Godmother – Griselda Blanco comes into the picture. The head of the Medellín Cartel Griselda Blanco played a major role in the history of the drug trade not only in Miami, but also in many other cities in the USA. She had her hand in much of what became known as the Cocaine Cowboy Wars – the drug related violence that plagued Miami in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The gangsters were dubbed Cocaine Cowboys because the lawlessness and corruption that accompanied the trade were very much like in the Wild West.
Props to Best Gore member ghannam007 for the tip on the documentary. There is a sequel to the documentary titled “Cocaine Cowboys II: Hustlin’ with the Godmother” which is narrated by Charles Cosby, lover of Griselda Blanco. The 2006 released Cocaine Cowboys documentary is below: