The police of Miami were losing control of the city. Outmanned and outgunned, the city had fallen into one ruled by cocaine traffickers. At the time, police were not authorized to carry automatic weaponry, leaving them extremely vulnerable to attacks by cartels. Their pistols and handguns were no match to the Mac 10 and Mac 11’s, which shot up to 16 bullets per second. They were facing increasing homicides. In 1979, there was 367 homicides. In 1980, that number was up to 573. Miami experienced 621 homicides in 1981, nearly twice the amount of two years prior.
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
In order to combat the increasingly powerful cartels, the police departments centered in Miami underwent a series of mass recruitments. They hoped by having more officers, they would regain control of their city.In order to combat the increasingly powerful cartels, the police departments centered in Miami underwent a series of mass recruitments. They hoped by having more officers, they would regain control of their city.
In order to increase recruitment, the standards for becoming a police officer were lowered. Originally, you couldn’t have consumed drugs ever to become a police officer. That was dropped to not having consumed drugs in the last 10 years. Police departments still did not receive enough recruits, so they dropped it to the last five years. Then, it became the past two years. Eventually, if you weren’t under the influence of drugs at the moment then you were hired.
This resulted in an unprecedented wave of police corruption
A Rise in Corruption
The drop of standards allowed for many crooked cops to join the police force that only seeked personal gain. Officers would confiscate drugs, and then sell it. This allowed them to generate much money than they ever would have on their salary.
The FBI’s investigation of the Miami Police Department found officers accused of
- Obstruction of Justice
- Narcotics Trafficking
- Gambling-Related Offenses
Over 100 members of the Miami Police Department were arrested, suspended, or punished for a series of drug related case in the late 1980’s. All of the officers that were hired during the year of 1981, ended up arrested or killed.
Findings demonstrate that 1/10 officers in Miami were under investigation for drug corruption during the 1980s
Experts predict that as much as 1/5 officers were connected to the drug trade
Miami indeed was beginning to seem like a paradise lost. Without intervention by an outside force, Miami was destined for doom
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
General Accounting Office, Information on Drug Related Police Corruption, Rep. No. 111 (1998). “http://www.gao.gov/assets/230/225957.pdf.
Kelly, James, Bernard Diedrich, and William McWhiter. "Miami Archives - Tracing the Rich History of Miami, Miami Beach and the Florida Keys: Miami in the 1980s: Mariel, Murder, Crooked Cops and Cocaine Cowboys." Miami Archives - Tracing the Rich History of Miami, Miami Beach and the Florida Keys: Miami in the 1980s: Mariel, Murder, Crooked Cops and Cocaine Cowboys. Time Magazine, 23 Nov. 1981. Web. <http://miamiarchives.blogspot.com/2015/04/miami-in-1980s-mariel-murder-crooked.html>.
Nordheimer, Jon. “Police Corruption Plaguing Florida.” The New York Times. August 2, 1986
United Press International. “Miami Cops Accused of Drowning Suspects.” The Chicago Tribune. December, 28, 1985
"Miami Drug Wars | Flashback Miami." Digital image. Flashback Miami. September 10, 2014. http://flashbackmiami.com/2014/09/10/miami-drug-wars/.