Cocaine Cowboys

We are not just a hip-hop site. That being said, I feel like I have to talk about this movie. I just watched it last night and it is fresh in my mind, I have a feeling it's not the type of film you forget about. It's actually very coincidental that I saw this movie, I was at Blockbuster and I was looking to watch "V for Vendetta" again (you'd think I own it right?). And as I went to the register I saw "Cocaine Cowboys", the cover was really the thing that got me to look at the back side. I read about it, disregarded it and payed my money for "V for Vendetta" and went home. I finished up watching my namesake and I started flipping through "On Demand" and found "Cocaine Cowboys". With a sigh, I decided this was fate and turned it on expecting to see a bad, overly-sentimental movie about the 1980's Miami cocaine scene a la Miami Vice. Well, I was very mistaken.
The movie starts out with Jon Roberts, a recently released drug trafficker talking about how he came to Miami in the late 70's from NYC. And they do a great job with editing, and flipping to archival footage throughout the movie, it doesn't seem like a documentary because it is so well edited. Jon Roberts is also a great narrator, he's not one of these thugs with a soft heart. He's an honest, genuine blue-collar guy who saw the incredible appeal and business venture in the cocaine industry.
Jon started off as a low-level cocaine dealer, selling to rich folks; doctors, lawyers, dentists, pilots, stewardesses. Once he acquired more customers, Jon had no place to get the extra cocaine he needed... so he had to go to Colombia to get cocaine. This is where he met his business partner Mickey Munday. Mickey was an amateur pilot who would fly to Colombia to acquire cocaine, and then bring it back to Miami, but was never involved in it's distribution. Once Roberts met some key figures, mainly Rafael Salazar, who later introduced Roberts to The Medellin Cartel. The Medellin Cartel became the main place from which Roberts would acquire his cocaine, and he was taking in about a million dollars a week (that's like two with inflation adjusted). Roberts even claimed to have met Pablo Escobar and Jorge Luis Ochoa Vázquez... who in that day and age were huge names in the cocaine scene.

After meeting Jon, we then meet Jorge "Rivi" Ayala, who was the infamous Griselda Blanco's "enforcer". Griselda Blanco, aka La Madrina, was an underworld boss back in the 80's and is widely known for her sociopathic/ paranoid behavior. Throughout the documentary, she becomes more and more heartless and wicked. At first she starts off as a huge figure in the Miami cocaine scene, much larger than Jon Roberts. As Miami grew in reputation and numbers of cocaine users, Blanco went from "capo"-esque behavior in murdering her enemies and rivals... to sadistic lunatic when she began to call hits on the children of people who betrayed her. Of course, Blanco didn't do any of the killing herself, instead sitting upon a throne she called upon "Ravi" (did you wonder when he would came back into the picture?). Ravi is the one who talks about all the murders he's committed for Blanco, and how foolish and needless they were.
The story ties in then when Jon Roberts meets Ravi and Blanco through his Miami cocaine connections. This is in about 1983 or 84, and now the story is narrated by an officer for The DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). The DEA really stepped in once the cocaine kingpins in Miami became known as the Cocaine Cowboys. The DEA began to eliminate all the small-time dealers in hopes of one day putting away big-time dealers like Roberts. Of course, they met no such success, the homicide rate in Miami skyrocketed, and it became known as the most dangerous place to live in the United States (just to add some hip-hop, this was the mid 80's, when NWA just started the Compton scene). As Miami grew to hold an terrible reputation, Reagan refused to step in, but upon George Bush Sr.'s presidency he sent in thousands of Federal troops to officially stop the corruption and violence due to drugs. Now Mickey Munday and Roberts had to be extra careful with drug transportation, as air traffic and boat traffic was extremely well-monitored. Eventually, Max Mermelstein a good associate of both Munday, Roberts, and Blanco got caught. In order to escape excessive time in jail, he snitched on all of his associates. This led to the downfall of the whole kingpin. Roberts served 15 years in jail, Munday was a fugitive for 6 years, but eventually served 8 or so years in jail, Blanco served 10 years in jail, and Ravi is still serving time in jail.
Roberts is now still living in Florida, Munday too, both are in retirement. Blanco was deported back to Colombia, where she is thought to be in hiding, because of the many enemies she had made in the cocaine trade.

Overall, I loved this documentary, I am sorry for the extra-long review of this movie, as it probably isn't of interest to everybody, but still if you ever run across this film check it out. If you really enjoyed this review, you can check out the film on Youtube, as someone uploaded it in 12 different videos... here's a link for one of them (the others shouldn't be too hard to find).
Cocaine Cowboys Part 1

And here's a trailer:
Posted on 5:10 PM by Guy Fawkes and filed under , | 0 Comments »

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