Cocaine Cowboys is a critically acclaimed 2006 documentary directed by Billy Corden, it looks back at the rise of cocaine in Miami and the subsequent cocaine epidemic which swept through the city and other surrounding areas in the 1970′s and 1980′s. The filmmakers interviewed former drug smugglers and gang members, as well as lawyers, law enforcement agents, and journalists from the era, each of who give their first hand account of the Miami drug war.
In the early 1960′s and 1970′s it was Marijuana which was the major imported drug into the area before it was replaced by the much more lucrative cocaine trade. In the film drug smugglers talk about the various methods that they would use to import drugs into Miami, they primarily used boat or air, but their systems were complex with legitimate businesses used as covers for illegal smuggling operations. While any drug epidemic ultimately has major negative social effects, the economic effects of this particular epidemic are said to have been of great benefit to Miami. Many of the modern high-rise developments and luxury beachside homes in the city were financed with drug money, and as the authorities began to win major battles in the drug war many high-end stores closed as the area became noticeably less affluent.
The drug gangs were very capable of violence however and some of the people interviewed in the film give some disturbing accounts at the lengths at which the smugglers would go to protect their empires, it was the lawlessness of the city at the time which led to the major players in the drugs gangs being dubbed the ‘cocaine cowboys’.A sequel to this documentary was made and is available to watch here on documentaryvine.com: Cocaine Cowboys 2