Cocaine Cowboys: The Inside Story Behind Netflix’s Explosive New Documentary Series
Film4 Minutes Read

Cocaine Cowboys: The Inside Story Behind Netflix’s Explosive New Documentary Series

August 10, 2021 Share

There are certain things that will always be an immediate hit with Netflix viewers. Documentaries that tell the stories of some of society’s most reprehensible figures are certainly amongst them. 

The streaming giant could, arguably, be considered the key player in the exponential boom in the popularity of true crime series over the last few years, with documentaries such as Making A Murderer, Abducted In Plain Sight and Evil Genius having enthralled audiences across the globe. 

Now, there’s a new true crime series making waves amongst the world’s Netflix subscribers, set to take viewers on a journey into the world of Florida’s drug trade. 

Cocaine Cowboys

The Kings Of Miami is the latest gripping documentary from filmmaker Billy Corben. Corben is no stranger to the backdrop populated by Miami’s cocaine king-pins, having previously produced three other documentaries exploring this world – 2006’s Cocaine Cowboys, followed up by sequels Cocaine Cowboys 2 and 2014’s Cocaine Cowboys: Reloaded. However, having been telling such stories for almost two decades and having covered the lives of several prominent figures within Miami’s drug trade, his latest work tells the story that he intended to put on film in the first place. 

Speaking to Newsweek, Corben explained that the story of the film’s two central characters – Augusto ‘Willy’ Falcon and Salvador ‘Sal’ Magluta – was the first story that he and his team had set out to tell. However, given just how many stories come from Miami’s criminal underground, they’ve been unable to do so until now. 

Sit down and become immersed in the six-part series, however, and it immediately becomes clear why Corben was so keen to tell the story in the first place – shocking, dramatic and an all-round wild ride, this is certainly worth every moment spent on the viewing experience. 

Who Are The Cocaine Cowboys?

Previous installments of the Cocaine Cowboys series have covered no shortage of prominent figures from within the Florida drugs trade of the 1970s and 1980s – now it’s the turn of Augusto ‘Willy’ Falcon and Salvador ‘Sal’ Magluta. 

Cuban-born but raised in Miami, Willy and Sal were high school best friends. Having known each other for many years, they’d come to make a pretty good team, known to many as Los Muchachos (or The Boys). When the pair decided to get involved in Miami’s booming cocaine trade, it only made sense that they’d take it on as a team. 

In the years following, Willy and Sal would go on to become billionaires thanks to their role within Florida’s drugs trade, having established themselves as particularly prominent figures within the Miami underground. Everybody knew the two – and despite being feared by many, they were liked by many, too. 

The pair were careful and purposeful within the way that they spent the riches that they earned from running their cocaine empire, often using their fortune to give back to the struggling local community. Willy and Sal had developed a reputation for philanthropy within their home neighbourhood in Miami, donating to local high schools and setting aside money so that local teens could aim towards a college education after graduating. Many saw them as a pair of true-life Robin Hoods. 

In fact, it was their kindly nature that kept so many on side. Despite being a part of a world that is so closely associated with murder, violence and scaring others into keeping quiet, Willy and Sal were famously non-violent throughout their time building their empire. 

Having made a vast fortune from the drugs trade, the two spent the eighties living within a lavish world of excess and decadence. No luxury was too expensive – no house too big, no car too fast and no party too much trouble. It seemed that the pair rarely worried about the consequences of their actions – whether or not the law would eventually catch up to them. After all, it wasn’t just those in need that saw a portion of their empire’s fortune, with the pair having cleverly and strategically paid off those that could lead to their eventual downfall. 

Over the pair’s career, they went on to smuggle, import and distribute around 75 tons of cocaine across Miami. Then, their luck ran out. 

What Happened To Willy Falcon And Sal Magluta?

Following years of lengthy police work after Richard Nixon vowed to ramp up the USA’s War On Drugs, Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta were indicted by a federal grand jury in April 1991. 

The list of crimes that the pair stood accused of was a fairly extensive one – drug trafficking, falsifying documents, operating a continuing criminal enterprise and, of course, for the distribution of over 75 tons of cocaine. 

Following their arrest, their no violence policy soon fell into disarray, with those who had been recruited to stand as witnesses in the trial attacked, silenced or even killed, with everything from professional hits to car bombings set on the witnesses from those within Willy and Sal’s inner circle. 

The pair stood trial in 1996, with the officers behind the police work fairly confident in the knowledge that it was an easy decision for those within the jury. However, confidence soon turned to shock as Willy and Sal were found not guilty of their alleged crimes. 

Of course, few on the accusing side were happy with such a verdict. Investigations were quickly launched into the pair’s financial records, turning up a result that surprised very few – many of those on the jury at their 1996 trial had been bribed into acquitting both Willy and Sal. 

Both men were quickly brought back into custody and made to stand trial for a second time, with bribery now added to the extensive rap sheet. The resulting sentences were night and day – having taken a plea deal, Willy was sentenced to just 20 years behind bars. Sal, however, received a life sentence. 

Where Are Willy Falcon And Sal Magluta Now?

In the two decades since the pair were sentenced for their crimes, what’s changed?

Willy Falcon served his time, having been released in 2017. However, he faced immediate deportation. 

Though, like Sal, Willy was born in Cuba, the decision was made that he would be deported to the Dominican Republic. It’s thought that he remains there to this day but nobody has admitted to knowing his whereabouts for sure, though Cocaine Cowboys director Billy Corben has previously commented that Falcon is attempting to live out his retirement years quietly and without drawing too much attention to his life before prison. 

As for Magluta, he continues to live behind bars – it’s reported that he is serving out his sentence in ADX Florence, a maximum security facility in Colorado. The prison is famous for its harsh conditions and deplorable inmates, with Sal in the company of serial rapists, violent killers and terrorists within ADX. It’s very likely that the former druglord will die there.

SEE MORE: This Is A Robbery: The Greatest Unsolved Art Heist In History

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Billy Corben
Cocaine Cowboys