Cocaine Cowboys – An Investigation Into the Crack Cocaine Market From the 1980s
The cocaine cowboys of the 1980s were a criminal group of men who made their living by stealing and selling drugs. These men would show up at legal proceedings and testify as to who was responsible for a shooting or a bust. They were notorious for setting up fake cocaine cowboys businesses in cities throughout the United States. Their goal was to intimidate law enforcement officers and judges into putting their people behind bars.
These cocaine cowboys were mostly from south Florida. They would travel to Colombia or Peru and bring cocaine back to the United States. The most high-profile case was the so-called “Barrel House Massacre”. Here, two men were killed in what was supposed to be a federal drug trafficking arrest. This case gained worldwide publicity because it was captured on video by a photographer working for the Associated Press. The cocaine in this case totaled about 25 kilos, which is a huge amount for that time.
This cocaine cowboys scandal became an international affair, and many different investigations were conducted. In the end, seven men were charged with criminal offenses, including murder. Authorities arrested several more men. However, the case collapsed due to lack of evidence. Authorities could not prove that these men were involved in a drug trade, so all their charges were dropped.
Investigation Into the Crack Cocaine Market From the 1980s
An interesting aspect of this story is that none of the suspects were ever brought to trial. Authorities decided not to pursue prosecution due to lack of evidence. There have been reports that authorities in the Miami area still continue to hunt for the cocaine cowboys. This 2006 documentary seeks to put those rumors to rest. It profiles several of the men who were involved in the case.
In the Miami-Dade County documentary, “Cocaine Cowboys: Search for the Masters of Crime,” several men who were charged with crimes related to the cocaine cowboys case were profiled. These men include former Miami police detective Richard Medina, undercover narcotics investigator Arthur Aguayo, and former sanitation workers who worked in Miami-Dade County’s public detox facility. Many of the subjects interviewed had close knowledge that authorities were looking for these men. They said that they never sold drugs themselves, but rather acted as middlemen for those selling drugs. Some of the subjects also said that they had direct involvement in the distribution of drugs, but did not admit to any charges.
The documentary also delves into the lives of other individuals from the Miami area who were not directly implicated in the cocaine cowboys case. Some were actually targeted by the ring. Others were indirectly affected, as some were afraid to take part in the drug trade due to the high prices and risk of arrest. Many of the subjects spoke about how they lost friends and family members to the drug trade, and the impact it had on their everyday lives. Many of the subjects said that they want to get out of the drug business, but are afraid to do so because they have to leave behind loved ones.