10 pictures that prove Miami is full of history. By history, we mean cocaine

Patrick O’Brien, special agent in charge of the Miami U.S. Customs office, at a news conference with confiscated cocaine in 1986.
Patrick O’Brien, special agent in charge of the Miami U.S. Customs office, at a news conference with confiscated cocaine in 1986.

People who don’t live in Miami are fond of saying we have no history here. This is not even close to the truth. We have lots of history! It’s just that some of it isn’t the kind the Chamber of Commerce likes to brag about.

We do, though. Especially the Cocaine Cowboys decade - also known as the 1980s or “that time people indulged in really questionable acid-washed jeans and murder.” It was one of Miami’s more memorable eras, making national news in 1979 after the Dadeland Massacre, during which gunmen opened fire on drug rivals shopping at Crown Liquor.

The era is so memorable that local filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman made a couple of movies about it. Corben has now co-written a play with Aurin Squire entitled “Confessions of a Cocaine Cowboy” for Miami New Drama. Previews of the play, directed by Michel Hausmann, start March 7 at the Colony Theatre on Lincoln Road (the official opening night is March 16).

In honor of this achievement - which, quite frankly, we can’t wait to see - we decided to take a trip down memory lane to remember these bad old days in Miami, courtesy of Flashback Miami.

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An officer outside the Crown Liquor at Dadeland Mall in 1979 after the shooting. Herald file photo.

First of all, there was a lot of cocaine

Bob East The Miami Herald

This is 627 pounds of cocaine on a desk at a DEA office in Miami in 1984.

No, seriously, a lot

Chris Usher The Miami Herald

Federal agents with some of the 6,292 pounds of cocaine smuggled inside a wooden picnic table in 1987. That would’ve have been some picnic.

Sometimes it came by plane

Bruce Gilbert The Miami Herald

A twin engine plane sits on I-75, west of the Palmetto, around 138th Street and 97th Avenue after it landed and the pilot fled. Yes. It was a suspected drug plane.

Sometimes by boat


A cocaine seizure in 1985. We have no information on how much was confiscated in this particular bust, but in our expert opinion it was seriously a lot.

U.S. Coast Guard offload more than 3,500 pounds of cocaine and 50 pounds of marijuana at Base Miami Beach, Tuesday, Oct, 16, 2018. The drugs were seized from suspected smuggling vessels off the coasts of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Aruba.

Sometimes by truck

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Brian Smith The Miami Herald

DEA agents guard a seized container truck carrying a shipment of cocaine packaged inside bags of brown sugar.

Also cars

Bruce Gilbert Miami Herald Staff

In 1987, Metro police Capt Jim Pridgen, supervisor of narcotics unit, stands in front of about 200 pounds of cocaine found in the trunk of a car at Northwest 28th Street and 32nd Avenue.

And then there were the bottles


In August of 1990, the FBI confirmed the presence of cocaine in eight 6.16 oz bottles of pony Malta De Bavaria which had been collected by the county public health unit from a local distributor that supplied Pony Malta De Bavaria to the lunch truck trade in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Note the difference between the products. The bottle on the left was laced with cocaine. The bottle on the right is the authentic product. Talk about a pick me up.

Sometimes even by bear

David Walters/Miami Herald

This Care Bear cared - about paying for some cocaine. Officer Frank Bele poses with the empty bear, which contained $156,000 in cash, in 1985.

Sometimes, even the cocaine got shot

Al Diaz The Miami Herald

Acting assistant special agent in charge for the DEA. Paul A. Teresi, whose jacket is en fuego 1985 style, points to a bullet hole in a kilo of cocaine the D.E.A. confiscated. Not even the drugs were safe.

“Confessions of a Cocaine Cowboy” by Miami New Drama

Where: Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach

When: Previews March 7-15; performances March 16-April 7

Tickets here.