Miami drug wars
The deadly 1979 shootout at Dadeland Mall in broad daylight between Colombian traffickers– quickly dubbed ”the Cocaine Cowboys” by a police officer on the scene — heralded the beginning of South Florida’s bloody and violent drug wars in which drug dealers competed for Miami’s wholesale markets. The mob-style execution and growing violence in the streets of Miami was linked to the nascent Medellin Cartel consolidating its control of the drug business. Smuggling rings grew to corporate size in the 1980’s. A 1982 seizure of $100 million worth of cocaine from a Miami International Airport hangar permanently altered U.S. law enforcement’s approach towards the drug trade. As a response, President Reagan created the South Florida Drug Task Force and assigned George Bush to lead a coordinated federal offensive in 1982. By then the Colombian cocaine lords had already amassed the vast wealth necessary to sustain and protect their drug empire. By 1985, South Florida cocaine seizures had shattered DEA records. 50,000 pounds worth more than $9 billion wholesale were seized in the span of 12 months — nearly twice the previous annual record for the entire United States.