The film Cocaine Cowboys discusses the cases in the US history that expose the damaging effect of drugs on the entire social system of the country. This paper analyzes the facts presented in Cocaine Cowboys and argues about the effect of cocaine on Miami and South Florida. Furthermore, it investigates the actions of the US criminal justice system that were aimed at the eradication of criminal cartels from Cuba and Colombia in South Florida. According to the historical facts, within less than a decade, a state that was associated with tourism and heaven changed into the most violent and dangerous place in the country. The film includes different evidence that exposes numerous cases of crime, ranging from smuggling and illegal trafficking to bribery, total corruption, and mass massacres. At the same time, although the criminal justice officials ended the drug war of the 1980s, the problem has not been solved completely.
Cocaine Cowboys Trafficking
One of the aspects that led to the cocaine overflow in Florida was drug trafficking that has grown into a complex system with the advanced logistics and support of advanced technologies. In the film, the trafficking issues were revealed by a smuggling expert, Mickey Monday, who transported over 38 tons of cocaine from Columbia to the United States (Corben, Spellman, & Cypkin, 2006). His cooperation with a cocaine trafficker, Jon Roberts, led to the emergence of an unprecedented network that was embracing not only Miami and Florida but also other states (Corben et al., 2006). The primary shipment method used by Monday was air transportation that allowed bringing hundreds of kilograms of the drug into the country without any interference from the police or customs. More than that, cartel associates established a system of short-wave radio transmitters that served as a major means of communication and warning in case naval patrol units of the police initiated counter-smuggling operations (Corben et al., 2006).
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In his turn, Roberts used such means of transportation as carrying the cars filled with cocaine by transportation companies, which helped to avoid possible conflicts with the police. Moreover, he avoided face-to-face contacts with different stakeholders in order to remain anonymous and have no witnesses in his business (Corben et al., 2006). Therefore, the smuggling paths were constantly updated depending on the awareness of the police of major transportation means and routes. Later, they switched to bribe the police, which led to its introduction to the illegal business.
Since the police failed to timely recognize the problem of cocaine smuggling and distribution, it caused a tremendous growth in its consumption and financial consequences that suddenly escalated into the conflicts of interests of different cartels. The first indicator that the issue had reached its peak was the incident in Dadeland Mall in 1979 when a group of armored individuals initiated an extremely bloody shootout in a public place (Corben et al., 2006). The crime scene involved the dead bodies of several males of Columbian origin that contained an excessively warning number of bullet shots and the obliterated liquor store filled with empty shells and blood (Corben et al., 2006). However, this case was just the beginning of a huge war that turned Miami into an extremely dangerous place because shootouts and bloody murders happened almost each day. As a result, in 1976, a number of drug-related murders in the city reached 104, which is why Time magazine published a warning statistics labeling the city as Paradise Lost, which destroyed its positive reputation (Corben et al., 2006). The media quickly associated bloody shootout initiators with the antagonists depicted in western films; for this reason, these extremely violent cartel members were entitled Cocaine Cowboys. Moreover, the number of murders quickly escalated to 367 in 1979, 573 in 1980, and 621 in 1981 (Corben et al., 2006). These grave problems affected the reaction of the US officials who had to unite all their resources in order to cope with the cocaine cartels.
Overall Effect of the Cocaine Issue on South Florida
At the beginning of the 1970s, Florida was a calm and peaceful state; however, its closeness to the borders with Colombia and Cuba was used by drug cartels that took advantage of this opportunity to flood the state with cocaine. Initially, it was mainly popular because of wonderful beaches and opportunities for tourism, which drastically changed after the price of cocaine decreased and became available to any working person (Corben et al., 2006). At that time, cocaine was widely accepted in South Florida the same way as alcohol, which is why it was illegally present in all places of public rest during weekends (Corben et al., 2006). As the network of individuals involved in drug transportation and use was increasing, it started merging with legal businesses, the country’s authorities, and even the criminal justice system. What aggravated the issue was the rivalry between drug cartels, which turned South Florida into the battle arena demonstrating unprecedented acts of violence. Within a short period of time, during the decade from 1970 to 1980, the state turned from heaven into the most dangerous place on Earth (Corben et al., 2006).
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Response of the Criminal Justice System
As the state was filled with drug users, it was hard for the police to find the required amount of loyal and just officers capable of withstanding the vicious power of the established criminal network. Corruption and bribery were a part of the criminal justice system, which is why the country’s officials called federal investigation agencies specializing in grave crimes such as FBI to assist in ending the drug war. As it appeared, only the unprecedented force of the police and federal investigation agencies could manage violent criminal acts of Cocaine Cowboys. Analyzing the cases of the brutality of cartel members, the officials of special forces recognized that the call of that time was that extraordinary criminal issues required an extraordinary response (Corben et al., 2006). This is why criminals had only two options of either surrendering and going to jail or being shot dead (Corben et al., 2006). The complicated investigation process allowed responsible officers to establish the fact that the most violent operations of the Columbian cartel were initiated by a woman called Griselda Blanco. Her tyrannical and violent way of governing this criminal network led to the fact that Cocaine Cowboys killed hundreds of individuals both related and non-related to the business. This is why it was the duty of the members of the criminal justice system to arrest her and her associates to end the bloodiest drug war in the history of the United States.
Current Drug-Related Issues in South Florida
Although the cocaine war was ended several decades ago, the issue of drug smuggling and abuse is still present in South Florida. One of its causes is that numerous businesses of the state were established during the process of money laundering in the 1970s and 1980s (Corben et al., 2006). At the same time, although Blanco was arrested and deported to Colombia in 2004, her whereabouts are unknown (Corben et al., 2006), and she can still be the head of this criminal business. As a result, there is a probability that certain individuals who survived after the cocaine war managed to conceal the nature of their business and secretly continue spreading the drug. One of the indicators of this is the fact that the United States is one of the largest regional cocaine markets with almost 40% of the global cocaine-using population (Lyman, 2014). The major routes of transportation of this drug are still the southern states because they are the closest to Columbia and Mexico. It appears that drug smugglers changed their tactics and use Mexico as a traffic gateway shipping cocaine there by air or boat and storing it in repository cities such as Guadalajara (Lyman, 2014). Modern means of communication have also changed as they allow smugglers and buyers to communicate using secure internet protocols and messengers. Some technologies have also affected the drug production process leading to the creation of black cocaine that is not detected by specially trained dogs and resists chemical tests (Lyman, 2014). Consequently, disregarding the resistance of the criminal justice system of different countries, the modern rate of cocaine consumption in the United States in 2015 reached 63% of the world’s cocaine supply (Lyman, 2014). Therefore, although the biggest drug war in the country was ended, it is not yet clear when it would be completely free from cocaine.
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Overall, the analysis of the issue leads to a conclusion that the negligence of the criminal justice systems officials in the 1970s regarding the problem of cocaine led to the creation of a powerful drug smuggling and distribution network. It had grown so big that embraced all social spheres of South Florida merging with businesses and officials and spreading corruption and moral degradation of the society. The responsible criminal justice officials realized that the cocaine issue had gone out of control after the first ultimately bloody shootouts, which evolved into the drug war. As a result, Miami that was once famous as heaven turned into paradise lost and the most dangerous place on Earth. Following the call of the time, the police and federal services of the country provided an equally strict response finding and punishing the members of Cocaine Cowboys infamous for the bloodiest shootouts. However, the analysis of the modern realities of the United States related to cocaine trafficking and consumption reveals that although the cocaine war was ended the cocaine business is still alive and waiting for its solution.