“Cocaine Cowboys” Review: A Netflix Series So Great It Is Addictive
At least once or twice in every episode of the brilliant, gripping, and hugely entertaining six-part Netflix documentary series about real crime, “Cocaine Cowboys,” there’s a revelation that makes us scream “Holy …” something .
Just a small sample:
- Even as Cuban-born and Miami-based drug lords Sal Magluta and Willy Falcon built a massive cocaine distribution network in the 1980s and rose to the top of the drug trafficking game, they appeared on ESPN as the smiling, jovial and ultra-competitive captains of the Seahawk team, which has won several national offshore powerboat championships.
- Years later, after Magluta and Falcon were acquitted of ordering murders and many other serious crimes despite a mountain of evidence against them, authorities began to investigate the financial transactions of the jury foreman, a mechanic. airline with a modest income that suddenly paid off. all his credit card debt, buying a house in the Florida Keys with cash and buying a fancy boat. Foreman’s defense attorneys came up with an all-time defense: Yes, the foreman was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash on crimes – but the money wasn’t from Magluta and Falcon, it was from the cousin foreman, a crooked Miami cop. In other words, he was spending DIFFERENT crime money.
- Among the many high-priced, high-profile defense attorneys employed at one time by Magluta and Falcon was Roy “The Professor” Black, who successfully defended William Kennedy Smith against rape charges, and subsequently married one of the jurors, Lea Black. She eventually became a cast member on “The Real Housewives of Miami” – along with the ex-wife of a certain Pedro “Pegy” Rosello, a criminal associate of Magluta and Falcon.
Don’t worry, I’m not giving all the right things; not by far. This is just a small sampling of the crazy bat developments in director Billy Corben’s epic, an expanded sequel to his memorable 2006 cult documentary, “Cocaine Cowboys” and 2008 “Cocaine Cowboys 2”. ‘is an extremely well-crafted, fast-paced, and always engaging series featuring the usual mix of real-crime documentaries of archival footage, secret audio and video recordings, current interviews with prosecutors, journalists and many key criminal actors on the vast Magluta / Falcon crime tree, and some terrific visuals – including illustrated timelines like cocaine lines and courtroom style sketches where witnesses’ eyes suddenly come to life. (Believe me, this is a really cool and efficient device.)
It’s also one of the best edited documentary series I’ve ever seen. “Cocaine Cowboys” juggles an ever-growing roster of colorful characters, but we never lose sight of the main storylines, and just when we wonder, “Hey and so-and-so? Boom! We come back to this particular story. It’s like the filmmakers are anticipating exactly what viewers want to see next.
“Cocaine Cowboys” does a remarkable job telling the bigger-than-Miami-Vice story of Augusto “Willy” Falcon and Salvador “Sal” Magluta, Cuban exiles and high school friends who quickly turned drug traffickers relatively small to become the main US distributors of two of Colombia’s largest cartels. They were smart and they were lovely and they were flamboyant and they were ambitious, and they rode the wave of cocaine madness that has permeated South Florida – and New York and Los Angeles and everywhere in between – In the 1980’s.
Everyone, including law enforcement officials, knew that Falcon and Magluta were drug lords. They had an extravagant lifestyle even though neither of them had legitimate jobs, they employed longtime friends and relatives to aid them in their criminal endeavors, and they became popular heroes in their community. Time and time again, the federal government would build a case against “Los Muchachos” – but it took decades and multiple trials before Falcon and Magluta, and at least 50 others associated with them, finally received justice. they had given them back.
Along the way, there have been some jaw-dropping developments, such as when the much-vaunted defense team posted a notice in Prison Life magazine asking where potential witnesses were located – and a number of those witnesses are. dead. Then there was the aforementioned episode with the foreman and two other jurors receiving bribes. Three jurors compromised on a single case!
Director Corben dots clips from films such as “The Godfather” and “Pulp Fiction” and dots the soundtrack with songs such as Miami Sound Machine’s “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” and Inner Circle’s “Bad Boys” and a Spanish language. version of “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees performed by JP Castillo. (The catchy original main title, “Blood Sport,” courtesy of Pitbull.) These touches further add to the feeling that we’re watching a non-fictional crime film with more than enough elements to make an epic feature film by one. Scorsese or a Tarantino. “Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami” is one of the best true crime documentaries of recent years.