Cocaine Cowboys chronicles the development of the illegal drug trade in Miami during the 1970s and 1980s with interviews of both law enforcement and organized crime leaders, in addition to news footage from the era.
The film reveals that in the 1960s and early 1970s, marijuana was the primary import drug into the region. During the 1970s, marijuana imports were replaced by the much more lucrative cocaine imports; as more cocaine was smuggled into the United States, the price dropped, allowing it to turn “blue collar,” and be available to a wider market. Drug importers reveal several of the different methods used to import the drug into Florida.
This documentary film reveals that much of the economic growth which took place in Miami during this time period was a benefit of the drug trade. As members of the drug trade made immense amounts of money, this money flowed in large amounts into legitimate businesses. As a result, drug money indirectly financed the construction of many of the modern high-rise buildings in southern Florida. Later, when law enforcement pressure drove many major players out of the picture, many high-end stores and businesses closed because of plummeting sales.
Also documented in the film is the gangland violence associated with the trade. The interviewees in the film argue that Griselda Blanco, an infamous crime family matriarch, played a major role in the history of the drug trade in Miami and other cities across America. It was the lawless and corrupt atmosphere, primarily from Blanco’s operations, that led to the gangsters’ being dubbed the “Cocaine Cowboys”.
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