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.
by Mark Deming synopsis