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Cocaine Cowboys

Cocaine Cowboys

5.0 3
Director: Billy Corben

Cast: Jon Roberts, Mickey Munday, Jorge "Rivi" Ayala

In the early '80s, a new business emerged in Miami, FL, that changed the face of the city forever. That business was cocaine smuggling; as America developed a growing appetite for the drug, Colombian suppliers found that Miami was a good place to bring it into the United States, and a new breed of outlaws were more than happy to face the risks of importing cocaine in


In the early '80s, a new business emerged in Miami, FL, that changed the face of the city forever. That business was cocaine smuggling; as America developed a growing appetite for the drug, Colombian suppliers found that Miami was a good place to bring it into the United States, and a new breed of outlaws were more than happy to face the risks of importing cocaine in exchange for the massive profits to be made. At one time, cocaine runners were making so much money that the city's banks were running out of room to store the cash, and smugglers were developing new ways to move the product, from floating tanks with radio tracking devices dropped into the ocean to cars stashed with drugs so well-connected drivers with tow trucks could haul them away and abandon them if necessary. The profits from Miami's cocaine explosion helped to transform the city into a major American playground, but it also brought a criminal element interested in more than just dealing drugs, as bloody reprisals between competing gangs of smugglers became commonplace, and hitmen began working overtime to keep up with the demand for revenge. Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman are a pair of Miami-based filmmakers who were able persuade a number of key figures from Miami's '80s cocaine trade to speak on-camera about their exploits, as well as law enforcement officials who struggled to keep up with them. The result was Cocaine Cowboys, a true-life thriller about the underworld culture that helped spawn the film Scarface and the television series Miami Vice. Jan Hammer, who composed the Miami Vice theme song, created a like-minded score for the documentary.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
The sordid history of drug trafficking in Miami is sodden with seemingly endless quantities of dope, money, and corpses. Documentary filmmaker Billy Corben divides his absorbing account of crime and consequences into three distinct sections: outlining the basics of cocaine importation and distribution; analyzing the detrimental societal effects of a city awash in illegal cash; and cataloging the runaway violence that accompanies the inevitable drug wars. A procession of flamboyant dealers and paid assassins wax nostalgic about the drug trade, while police detectives and crime reporters supply the social commentary. The “stars” include major cocaine dealer Jon Roberts and expert transporter Mickey Munday, whose reminiscences bridge the period during which a once-sleepy retirement town became into a glitzy playground for fast-living Eurotrash. And if the hard-driving score sounds appropriately familiar, it’s due to composer Jan Hammer, who also provided the rat-tat-tat music for the ‘80s hit series Miami Vice.
All Movie Guide
Miami's drug-fueled crime wave of the 1970s and early 1980s has been transformed into a compelling narrative with this hard-hitting documentary. Cocaine Cowboys succeeds where many a drug-themed feature film fails because it goes to the story's sources and lets them lay out every detail of what happened, warts and all. It also helps that the participants are natural storytellers: Jon Roberts and Mickey Munday lay out how they built Miami's drug empire with a captivating mix of insider details and dark humor while Jorge Ayala Blanco's deadpan tales of drug-motivated killings are as chilling as they are casually told. These tales of lawlessness are balanced by insightful commentary from the policemen and reporters that covered this crime wave, which adds an additional layer of depth to the proceedings. The film is also effectively directed by Billy Corben, who keeps the film's interview-driven narrative from lapsing into "talking heads" monotony by setting the story to a fast-edited barrage of animated photos, video, and film footage of the era. The cinematic feel is further enhanced by a stylish rock music score by Jan Hammer that echoes his famous work on the Miami Vice television series. In short, Cocaine Cowboys is sometimes gruesome, sometimes darkly funny, and always fascinating.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
[Wide Screen]
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Special Features

Hustlin' With the Godmother: The Charles Cosby Story; Deleted scenes with commentary; Commentary: Billy Corben (director/producer), David Cypkin (co-producer); Sneak peek of Mr. Untouchable by HDNet Films

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Cocaine Cowboys
1. Intro Credits [2:37]
2. Jon Roberts Interview [2:30]
3. Mickey Munday Intro [5:54]
4. More Demand [4:04]
5. The Columbian Bosses [3:14]
6. Shortwave Communication [1:48]
7. Concealment [6:16]
8. Wholesalers [2:08]
9. Noriega [1:09]
10. Drugs Everywhere [3:31]
11. American Dream [1:47]
12. Drugs and Money [4:56]
13. Corruption [2:35]
14. Real Estate [1:32]
15. Dadeland Mall [3:45]
16. The Cowboys [3:50]
17. Cuban Exodus [2:17]
18. Cocaine Cops [3:15]
19. Rivi [5:09]
20. The Godmother [10:16]
21. Chucho Hit [1:34]
22. Enforcer #1 [3:48]
23. Alfredo Lorenzo Hit [2:38]
24. New York Feud [4:44]
25. Heat [5:46]
26. California Prospects [3:29]
27. Marta Ochoa [:44]
28. The Crackdown [3:09]
29. Miami Unravels [6:40]
30. Silver Lining [1:29]
31. Jon Is Released [4:06]
32. End Credits [4:35]


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Cocaine Cowboys 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The flash, the sex, the romance, the glamour, Hollywood stars coming to Miami revitalization after the banks swelled with drug dealer and drug trafficking money that was out of this world and skies, literally. But as with anything with the drug trade, there is such a brutal (which is an overused word, but adequately describes the profession) side that the remade town of Miami after the corruption, bribes,, real estate, wholesale murders with no point than other than just not to screw with us, the Colombians clashing with the Cubans in a fruitless over those two most prized possessions in Miami-cocaine and money. Plus , there was no real effective law enforcement if in those days. It was basically the animals vs. the animals. Death and more death and Miami made Chicago look like a bunch of chimpanzees arguing over bananas. A sad commentary of America but maybe one of the most poignant ones with such unsavory characters like Griselda Blanco, Jorge 'Rivi' Ayala, Mickey Munday, and Jon Roberts. May they all rot in hell.
Cadaverous More than 1 year ago
A must have for all illicit narcotic smuggling, corruption deals, law enforcement tactics in taking down Organize Crime syndicates and mobs movies aficionados.
DebDE More than 1 year ago
Cocaine cowboys sure brings back a lot of memories for me as a teen hearing about cocaine and the recession. Great movie. Keeps you watching it. Interesting story telling for the late 70's early 80's