Cocaine Cowboys

Cocaine Cowboys documents how cocaine would change the city of Miami, Florida as well as how it changed the business of drug smuggling and those who would become consumed with its allure.  America would develop a growing appetite for cocaine, and drug traffickers were more than willing to feed it.  Columbian and American traffickers would use Miami as the gateway for distribution in the United States.  Cocaine cowboys smuggling cocaine into the US would take on huge risks which would yield them enormous profits.  This desire for prestige and the lust for money would propel cartels into war against each other, creating a world of corruption, violence and murder.

Coletta Youngers, article Collateral Damage: The US “War on Drugs” and its Impact on Democracy in the Andes discussed how America is the world’s largest consumer of illicit drugs Because of this the United States has tried to use its diplomatic and economic leverage to force Andean governments to adopt policies that would drain scarce resources from other national priorities.  These policies would not only cause resentment but also a path of “collateral damage.”  The United States war on drugs has increased the military role in these countries which in turn has led to human right abuses and the United States alliance with such militaries.  Youngers goes on to say that “Drug trafficking in the Andes breeds criminality, exacerbates political violence, and hence greatly increases problems of citizen security.”

The United States has been dealing with the drug war since the Nixon administration but it wasn’t until the Andean Initiative that the US began to focus its attention on source country efforts.  According to the US, attention focused on the source country would make it more dangerous and costly to traffic illicit drugs, thus causing production and availability to decrease, prices to increase which would hopefully discourage US citizens  from buying and using illicit drugs.  However due to greed and increasing demand the war on drugs has become even harder to fight.

Declassified documents obtained by the National Security Archive revealed the United States knowledge of drug operations and their collaboration and protection of known drug traffickers.  In a document dated February 10, 1986, a note written by Robert Owen to Oliver North lays out in detail how a plane that was formally used to transport drugs was carrying “humanitarian aid” to the contras.  The plane involved was owned by Michael Palmer one of the United States largest marijuana traffickers.  Palmer’s assistance would pay him over $300,000.00 from the Nicaraguan Humanitarian Aid Office (NHAO) which was overseen by Oliver North.  This would not be the only time that North knew of illegal cocaine deals.  There were several incidences in which he failed to take action.  North’s association with General Noriega of Panama would cause a political scandal.  North would later testify that he lied and tried to cover up his involvement in the Iran-Contra scheme. North would be convicted of three of the sixteen counts, and would receive a three year suspended sentence.

Corruption was also rampant on the state and city level in Miami.   Cocaine Cowboys revealed to viewers that Miami’s entire first class of officers was either killed or arrested for drug related crimes.  Banks would also be involved in accepting and laundering large amounts of drug money. It would be this drug money that would transform Miami into what is today, a fast growing city that rose from cocaine