One of the most violent eras of American history was that of the "Cocaine Cowboys" - a drug-laden, dangerous time during the late '70s and '80s in South Florida. The Miami drug trade was wrought with graphic violence, horrific crime, and vast riches.
If you’ve seen Scarface, you only know a slice of the terror that took place in Dade County in the '80s. No one was safe from the cartel war that raged through the city - not even women and children. That era was full of men who were dubbed Cocaine Cowboys - marauding bands of mercenaries who worked for the cartels to kill anyone who got in the way of making piles of money.
It's not just the backdrop for popular movies and shows: Stories of the Cocaine Cowboys in Miami are real, true crime tales. A lot of innocent people lost their lives in the bloodbath the cartels created in Miami, and for nothing more than the crass pursuit of money and getting high.
A Toddler Was Killed Instead Of His Father
In 1982, Griselda Blanco ordered her enforcer Rivi to take out Jesus “Chucho” Castro, a former cartel enforcer who Blanco had marked for murder after he kicked her son out of his house. Rivi pulled up alongside Chucho's car while he was trying to get on the highway in South Miami and fired an M-16 into the car. Rivi missed Chucho, but he shot and killed Chucho's 2-year-old son - an unintended target. After he was arrested, Rivi told the police, “At first [Blanco] was real mad ’cause we missed the father. But when she heard we had gotten the son by accident, she said she was glad, that they were even.”
According to the documentary Cocaine Cowboys, Chucho had to drop the boy's body off with a note for the police rather than report the crime because he was wanted on trafficking charges at the time.
Alfredo And Griselda Lorenzo Were Murdered With Their Children In the Next Room
After allegedly failing to pay $250,000 cash to Griselda Blanco for some cocaine they had taken out on consignment, Alfredo Lorenzo and his wife had to pay the ultimate price: their lives.
One night in 1982, three of Blanco's enforcers went to the Lorenzo household during dinner and murdered the husband and wife as their three children watched television in the next room.
The Papo Mejia Crew Paid for Crossing Blanco
One of Griselda Blanco's former enforcers, Papo Mejia, supposedly stole from her in the early days of cocaine dealing and then decided to start his own business in New York City. Determined to punish anyone who turned on her, Blanco sent Rivi to New York to kill everyone who was working for Mejia.
Rivi described the job in Cocaine Cowboys: "From the stashers to the hitmen - 11 people, they all got killed. In less than 24 hours. It supposed to be 12 but I let one go."
The Octavio Mejia Homicide
After Rivi returned from New York City, where he killed 11 members of Papo Meija's gang, he wanted to finish off the Meija bloodline, so he followed Papo's father Octavio to the Pan-American Mall in Miami. When Mejia left the mall, he was ambushed by Rivi and his men and was shot by multiple gunmen.
Rivi notes in the documentary about the murders that many people in the Colombian drug community were "pissed [at Griselda] because [Octavio] wasn't a part of the war," but that she "didn't give a sh*t."