America’s Longest War (Pt 1) – The Cocaine Cowboys
“America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.” – Richard Nixon (June 17, 1971)
With drug abuse on the rise, President Richard Nixon declared an all-out “war on drugs” – he vowed to incarcerate and rehabilitate drug smugglers, dealers and users in an attempt to clean up the streets of America and to rid the country of the growing crime and murder rates at the time – 45 years down the line, and it has become abundantly clear that Nixon, and those who held office after him, failed miserably.
With the boom of the drug trade and the illegal activities that so often associates itself with the trade, came a path of destruction that increases in magnitude – despite the effort of the American government, lives are still being ruined (mostly unfairly) on a daily basis.
This is the story of America’s War on Drugs – a war that’s cost trillions of dollars, but the value of the lives that have been lost along the way, is immeasurable.
The Cocaine Cowboys
In the late 60’s and early 70’s, drugs were by no means a new thing in America – in the city of Miami, marijuana was imported and distributed to the extent that smugglers were often left with stock that would not sell due to an over-supply in the market.
Unbeknownst to the smugglers, users, law enforcement and politicians, was the fact that one drug would soon change the entire drug industry and the way the city conducted their daily lives.
At the time, cocaine was seen as a blue collar drug – a recreational substance that the rich and famous would abuse over weekends, while returning to their offices as lawyers, doctors and brokers during the week.
As the Columbians found ways and means to get more and more cocaine into Miami, this would all change. The drug became more accessible and more affordable – not before long, the greater part of the population would be using cocaine in some form or another. Even the few who abstained from using, would benefit greatly from the economic growth in the city – growth that was achieved with money that came directly from the illegal drug trade.
Not long after the growth of the cocaine trade, a chance meeting between Jon Roberts and Mickey Munday, would change their lives forever.
Roberts, a small-time drug dealer, outgrew the supply that he was getting from Cuba and needed bigger shipments to keep up with the growing demand.
Munday, had been working as a trafficker for a while and had set up a logistics network that would soon make both of them millions and millions of dollars.
During 6 years of working together, Roberts and Munday would help the Medellin cartel to ship more than $38 billion worth of cocaine with relative ease, helping to build an economy that turned small-town Miami into the tourist-paradise that it is today.
It was with cocaine-money that people conducted business in Miami – many did not realise this at the time, but cocaine money became so influential that certain banks operated purely on money that was made through the illicit trade of the drug.
With crime and violence on the rise, things started getting ugly for Miami – a TIME Magazine cover titled “Paradise Lost?” questioned what was being done to stop the hundreds of drug-related killings in the city and put pressure on the government to investigate how a small city could thrive this aggressively while the entire nation was in economic recession.
Like in Miami, across the whole America, drugs were taking over and it was up to President Richard Nixon, to find a solution.
And with that, the American government officially declared a war…
To continue reading part 2, click here.
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