Film: Cocaine Cowboys

Cocaine Cowboys is a 2006 documentary about the rise of the illegal cocaine trade in Miami, Florida and the resultant crime epidemic during the 1970s and 80s. The movie chronicles the development of the illegal drug trade in Miami during the 70s and 80s, focusing on the immense and easy riches as well as the resulting gangland violence and bloodshed. The story is told primarily from the perspectives of Jon Roberts and Micky Munday, who helped transport cocaine for the Medellin Cartel as well as Jorge "Rivi" Ayala, the main enforcer for notorious Cartel drug lord Griselda Blanco AKA "The Godmother".

The 2008 sequel In Name Only, Cocaine Cowboys II: Hustlin' with the Godmother, documented the relationship between Oakland crack dealer Charles Cosby and Griselda Blanco against a backdrop of the early 90s crack cocaine scene. The second film is smaller in scope, dealing primarily with Cosby and Blanco's relationship as opposed to the first film's assorted cast of characters.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Affably Evil: Roberts and even Rivi.
  • Corrupt Cop: Police corruption was endemic, to the point that an entire academy year of the Miami PD ended up dead or in jail over drug-related corruption.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster : Played straight for most of the first film, until it all falls apart.
  • Dedication: The Reloaded cut is dedicated to the memory of Medical Examiner Dr. Joeseph Davis, who died in 2013.
  • The Dragon: Rivi, hitman and main enforcer for Blanco.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In the first film, Rivi and his men had just successfully carried out a hit on a man who failed to pay Blanco when Rivi learns that she had also promised his men a bonus for killing the wife and kids as well. Even though his men had already shot the wife, Rivi ordered his own men out of the house at gunpoint to stop them from killing the children. Additionally, the accidental death of a rival dealer's son during a drive-by shooting is one of the only killings for which Rivi shows any apparent regret.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Roberts mentions this as proof of the corrupting effect of drug money on businesses and police.
  • Gorn: The first film has quite a few explicit shots of dead men killed as a result of the drug wars.
  • Infant Immortality: Zigzagged in the first film. Averted with the son of Chucho, a drug dealer who had disrespected Blanco's son, Michael Corleone Blanco, but played straight when Rivi orders his men to spare another target's children (see Even Evil Has Standards). Averted in the second with a memorial wall showing the many young deaths from drug gang violence.
  • Irony: A moment of situational irony occurred when a South Florida preacher's sermon on the evils of drugs was interrupted by half a million dollars worth of cocaine crashing through the church roof.
  • Karma Houdini: Averted for most in the first film. Roberts & Munday were arrested soon after Max Mermelstein but were eventually released from prison, with Roberts dying of cancer in 2011. Rivi is still serving a life sentence for three murders. Griselda Blanco was arrested and imprisoned in 1985 (an subsequent case against her became a subplot in the sequel), but was released from jail & deported in 2004 and eventually gunned down in Colombia in 2012. Subverted with Max Mermelstein, who went into Witness Protection until he died of cancer in 2008. Played straight in the second film with Cosby, who retired from the drug trade after his involvement in Blanco's prosecution.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Cosby directly credits this for his survival at the end of the sequel.
  • Woman Of Wealth and Taste: Griselda Blanco.
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: Even though Blanco was arrested in 1985, she still ran her cocaine empire from prison and enjoyed an $50 million annual income.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Discussed by Roberts as a major difference between Colombian and Italian organised crime - the Colombians would kill someone if they didn't get paid (or sometimes even if they did), whereas the Italians would just beat them up because they wouldn't be able to get any more money from them if they were dead.
  • Professional Killer: Rivi.
  • Recut: An updated and extended version of the original, Cocaine Cowboys: Reloaded, was released in April 2014.
  • The Stool Pigeon: Max Mermelstein becomes a Betrayer Barry after getting busted for possession and taking a Plea Bargain. His testimony helped put Roberts & Munday away and effectively crippled the Medellin cartel's Miami operation.
  • Title Drop: In the first film, the title is used to describe the gunmen from rival gangs shooting each other on the streets.
  • Villain Protagonists: Roberts, Munday and Rivi in the first film. Cosby in the sequel.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The last few minutes of Reloaded details the eventual fate of most of the main players (see also Karma Houdini) including events that occurred since the original film's release (such as the deaths of Roberts and Blanco).
  • Witness Protection: Max Mermelstein entered the program after testifying against the others and the Cartel.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Rivi refusing to let his men kill a target's children.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Cosby cheats on Blanco with a white woman and ends up getting shot at as a "warning".