welcome to miami
It feels like Miami’s year with The Heat as champs and ‘Hustlin’ as the anthem. Many of us prepped for Michael Mann to bring us The Year’s Best Remake of a Tough Guy Classic. But just as Martin Scorsese scoops that title with his Southie rework of HK macho, the thrilling ride that was ‘Miami Vice’ resurfaces in the coda of the fascinating documentary, ‘Cocaine Cowboys.’
As a synthesized score (composed by none other than Jan Hammer!) brings us in to the rapid fire account of Miami’s redefinition from lazy vacation / retirement spot to cocaine capitol to murder central, fans of ‘Scarface’ and ‘Miami Vice’ get to see and hear the real deal from the real dealers; smugglers and distributors, cops and killers. The details documented in this movie should keep our favorite rappers ‘coke rhymes’ supplied with line after addictive line. A smuggler describes a floating bale of marijuana as ‘a square grouper’ before he moves into the ‘port of Miami’ coke trade for the ‘weekend warriors,’ the well-off clientele who could afford $800 oh-zees for their between-the-weekly-grind parties. We see how the Oakland raiders and the Grateful Dead were connected by more than just the San Francisco Bay. We learn that Pablo Escobar has a bigger rep than his actual contribution to the Medellin trade might account for (Old Man Ochoa was the real boss). Who will rap first about the noirishly named Micky Munday? He is described as the ‘redneck’ pilot who revolutionized drug smuggling (and thus its law enforcement techniques) with such leaps of imagination as cans with radio transmitters and product dropped off shore. He established a trade route to avoid existing patrols for contraband on the Bahamas route and then drove the product SOUTH to Miami FROM the north with a towed car serving as the ‘package’ for the product so that the truck driver was always ‘clean.’ Munday and his distribution partner Jon Roberts laundered their ever increasing amounts of money through Noriega (the REAL Noriega). The description of their financial success is staggering but they were far from the only ones tapping into the coke demand. Miami soon had a luxury car shortage as people would buy multiple BMWs and Benzes per year.
Believe it or not, but before these guys, there wasn’t a nightclub scene… there was no Miami skyline… there was no $6 Billion cash surplus in the Miami federal reserve… But even with all of that there was no way you could have predicted a drug ‘boss’ like ‘La Madrina’ Griselda Blanco aka the Black Widow. And any work of fiction would be lucky to have a villain as cool and collected as the assassin Jorge ‘Rivi’ Ayala. His account of the climactic hit with a bayonet is straight up Elmore Leonard who avoids “good vs bad” but loves “smart vs dumb.” And like any good pulp fiction, the surprise of who lives or who dies, who gets caught or who gets away is less important than how it all goes down. ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ deals the details in a well orchestrated coked-out rush and it is guaranteed to make you fiend for more.
When ‘Miami Vice’ and ‘Scarface’ get referred to after the coke-economy-crash, they seem like quaint tales compared to the real blood and big money that the ‘regular’ folks in ‘Cowboys’ got themselves into. Documentaries may not get the wide distribution they deserve but as far as the street market is concerned this one is gonna blow.
Oh and if you need more local encouragement…
Carol City Flea Market
And an earlier account of the trade...
BDP - Illegal Business