Changing Drug Market (04:08)
Two years after Nixon declared war on drugs, he had resigned and drug use in America was on the rise. Cocaine was becoming a popular and an important currency to the international drug trade. Two federal inmates began to organize what would become the Medellin drug cartel’s method of cocaine smuggling.
Medellin Cartel (05:26)
The cartel was founded in Medellin, Colombia by Pablo Escobar, a lifelong thief and drug smuggler. Chilean chemists, who specialized in making cocaine, fled the CIA-backed coup in Chile and went to work for Escobar. The United States initially ignored drug activity in Colombia.
Cocaine Distribution (04:06)
The Medellin Cartel began using small airplanes to smuggle cocaine into America. They took over a small island in the Bahamas to use as a refueling station between Colombia and Florida.
DEA and CIA in Bolivia (06:22)
Roberto Suarez was a rancher turned drug lord, who provided 60% of the world's cocaine. Undercover DEA agents had infiltrated Suarez's organization. The CIA was supporting Suarez's allies because they helped overthrow the Communist-leaning government.
South Florida's Drug Trade (06:13)
Suarez and the Medellin Cartel worked to conquer the drug market in south Florida. Violence increased and the drug lords made millions from the flow of drugs from Central America. Rival cartels aligned and divided the American drug market.
Violence and Public Crisis (08:05)
In 1981, violence and murders increased in Miami, causing panic throughout the country. President Ronald Reagan called for a crackdown on drug trafficking and organized crime and put Vice President George H.W. Bush in charge of the new war on drugs.
Response to Drug Task Force (06:05)
With Bush's task force in south Florida, the cartels found new ways to bring drugs into the country. A pilot flew cocaine from Colombia to a small airport in Arkansas. The DEA began taking on drug operations in Colombia.
Cartels and the Colombian Government (04:06)
The Colombian government formed an alliance with America to extradite drug lords. Cartel members sent an armed militia to attack the Colombian Supreme Court; cartel leaders fled to other Central American nations.
Cold War Missions in Central America (11:53)
The American government was involved in numerous conflicts. The U.S. used a CIA informant to frame the Nicaraguan government as cocaine traffickers. The CIA allowed drug smuggling to fund missions.
Rise of Crack Cocaine (08:24)
The introduction of crack changed cocaine trafficking. "Freeway" Rick Ross built a drug empire selling crack in Los Angeles. Ross' supplier used the money to fund CIA-backed Contras in Nicaragua.
Drug Prevention Campaigns (04:24)
Nancy Reagan's Just Say No campaign followed the formula of zero-tolerance drug prevention programs. Campaigns focused on demonizing crack. In 1986, Reagan signed new drug laws that increased jail time for crack more than powdered cocaine.
CIA Activities Exposed (08:52)
In 1986, America's activity in Central America began to unravel. A CIA informant was killed and a CIA plane carrying weapons and drugs was shot down. A Congressional hearing was called to discuss the CIA's operations.
CIA and the Cartels (06:43)
A Senate hearing occurred after a Medellin Cartel member connected the cartel to the CIA's secret war in Central America. The CIA was forced to address mounting accusations.
Credits: Cocaine, Cartels, & Crack Downs (00:45)
Credits: Cocaine, Cartels, & Crack Downs
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