Cocaine Cowboys (2006)

    Cocaine  Cowboys (2006) is a documentary film by Alfred Spellman and Billy Corben about the cocaine epidemic in Miami and the crime that was a result of the epidemic.  Many different people who were involved first hand with the cocaine culture were interviewed.  First hand experiences allows for diverse perspectives of the Miami drug war during the 1970s and 1980s. 

    The cocaine drug trade did explode onto the scene in Miami during the 1970s, but that doesn’t mean drug trafficking just started during this time.  It has been around for many, many years.  According to the National Security Archive’s declassified documents written by Oliver North, the National Security Council aide “who helped run the contra war and other Reagan administration covert operations.”  “In his entry for August 9, 1985, North summarizes a meeting with Robert Owen, his liaison with the contras.  They discuss a plane used by Mario Calero, brother of Adolfo Calero, head of FDN, to transport supplies from New Orleans to contras in Honduras.  North writes: ‘Honduran DC-6 which is being used for runs out of New Orleans is probably being used for drug runs into U.S.’”  The article goes on to talk about how the information may not have been passed on to the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Not all of this critical information about drug trafficking was always passed on to the appropriate agencies.  Lots of information on drug smuggling and the main traffickers are highlighted during the declassified articles under “The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations” section of the National Security Archives website.  This process of transporting illegal drugs to the United States has been going on for many years, but until the 1970′s and 1980′s, is wasn’t as big of a problem or economic stimulus until cocaine culture exploded in Miami.

    Furthermore, with the explosion of cocaine in Miami, of course crime rate sky rocketed.  In an article by Coletta A. Youngers “Collateral Damage: The U.S.‘War on Drugs’ and Its Impact on Democracy in the Andes,” she discusses how crime became a huge problem due to the increasing drug trafficking situation.  “The dramatic increase in drug trafficking poses real dangers to countries throughout the Western Hemisphere.  Drug trafficking in the Andes breeds criminality, exacerbates political violence, and hence greatly increases problems of citizen security” (Youngers 126).  She goes on to talk about how the ”war on drugs” impacted corruption among the governments and police agencies, “particularly in poor urban areas where both drug abuse and drug-related violence are rampant” (Youngers, 126).  For many years, U.S. administrations have tried to stop the drug problem, but it’s been quite the difficult process.  “While the roots of the drug war go back to the Nixon administration, the launching of the ‘Andean Initiative’ by President George H. W. Bush in 1989 focused attention on source-country efforts.”  Many have tried to combat the “war on drugs”, but the addiction and greed of people have allowed for unsuccessful efforts. 

    Lastly, being an employee of the Blount County Sheriff’s Office and the 5th Judicial Drug Task Force, I can say from my own experience that the “war on drugs” is very real problem especially in here in East Tennessee.  Many drug dealers admit to getting drugs like cocaine and marijuana from Latin America, especially areas in Mexico.  Many surrounding countries do interdiction work and have stopped numerous cars transporting drugs from Mexico.  It is just as real and dangerous of an issue as it was in Miami in the 1970′s and 1980′s.