The Federal Government

Federal Intervention


The failure by local law enforcement to handle the issue of the cocaine crisis led to intervention by federal powers in the 1980s who took more innovative measures.


CENTAC was created in 1981 to combine the knowledge of local police with the resources of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and form a strong tactical unit. CENTAC was given authorization to use automatic weaponry, making them more of a threat to the cartels.


In 1982, President Reagan creates the South Florida Drug Task Force, which was headed by George H.W. Bush. The South Florida Drug Task Force combined agents from the DEA, Customs, FBI, ATF, IRS, Army and Navy to mobilize against drug traffickers.


The FBI Police Corruption Squad was created in 1986 to find and prosecute corrupt police officials.


President Reagan proceeded to address the issue of drugs in the United States. He signed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, allowing asset forfeiture sharing between state and local law enforcement agencies. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 also provided for stronger and better-strategized attacks against Medellin and Cali cartels.


Due to federal intervention, the cartels began to decrease their presence in Miami. Fearing extradition and capture, Colombian drug lords began to sell their products to Mexican cartels. The Mexican cartels later assumed the role of importing cocaine into the United States. As it became harder to import drugs through South Florida, California and the US-Mexican border became more vulnerable to drug smuggling. 


.Billy Corben, skype call with Tomas Gomez and Andrea Edmunds, May 12, 2016


Cocaine Cowboys. Dr. Billy Corben. Prod. Slfred Spellman. Perf. Jon Roberts and Mickey Munday. Magnolia Pictures, 2006. Videocassette


Cockburn, Alexander. Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press. N.p.: Verso, 1998.


Dombrink, John. “The Touchables: Vice and Police Corruption in the 1980’s” Duke University School of Law


Fisher, Marc, and James A. Russel. "FBI Shootout - April 11, 1986." Miami Archives. Last modified July 31, 2014.


General Accounting Office, Information on Drug Related Police Corruption, Rep. No. 111 (1998). “ "


“Drug Enforcement Administration History 1985-1990.” 58DEA: 58-74. Nordheimer, Jon.


“Police Corruption Plaguing Florida.” The New York Times. August 2, 1986


Thirty Years of America's Drug War: A Chronology."


PBS. Accessed March 23, 2016 United Press International.



"Signing Ceremonies." Digital image. Reagan Library.


"News from DEA, News Releases, 09/07/01." News from DEA, News Releases, 09/07/01. September 7, 2001.