Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta make Randy Lanier and John Paul Sr. look like amateurs. Childhood friends, Falcon and Magluta are the the stars of the new Netflix series Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami, which highlights how two Cuban exiles transformed both the culture of Miami, Florida and the American drug trade as a whole.
The entire documentary is incredible, and it’s one of those shows where you think it can’t possibly get any wilder after the first episode… and then it does. Director Billy Corben lets everyone involved in the billion-dollar smuggling trade tell their story, which spans from the childhood of these two friends to their ultimate sentencing for jail time. It is, frankly, a stunning story — especially considering how frequently these men could flout their money and their drugs and still avoid getting caught.
But for our own part here on Jalopnik, I want to touch on one fascinating tidbit: speed boat racing.
Honestly, I love the fact that so many smugglers decided to further enhance their adrenaline kick by dumping massive amounts of money into racing. Motorsport tends to be the sheer depictor of excess (spending millions of dollars developing a competitive race car isn’t going to save anyone’s life or really even contribute anything to society, after all), so it makes sense that when these drug kingpins amassed serious amounts of money, they’d use it to continue their fast-paced lifestyle.
It also highlights how fascinating the cult of personality around some of these drug kingpins can be. If you can’t confirm any legitimate source of income, how can you justify spending millions of dollars pursuing championships? You can’t. But so many of these men adored the limelight they received. It’s especially obvious with “Los Muchachos,” Falcon and Magluta, who often viewed their drug money through philanthropic means as they donated money to local churches and areas in need. They were pinnacles of their communities, ones that were often left behind by the government.
But there was still time to hop in a speedboat and win a championship. And that, I can respect.