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Drugs and ThugsThe History and Future of America's War on Drugs$
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Russell Crandall

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300240344

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300240344.001.0001

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(p.191) 13 Kingpin
Drugs and Thugs

Russell Crandall

Yale University Press

This chapter introduces Colombia's sweet-smelling cannabis as an export-grade product that was abundant from the countryside to interior cities, such as Medellín, and became the global gold standard for pot. It identifies that Colombian kingpins first shipped cannabis northward using American pilots who would land at remote airstrips to pick up hundreds of kilos at a time. It also details how cocaine was brought across by paid smugglers known as mules, estimating that imports of the white powder to the United States totalled six hundred kilos a year. The chapter recounts that the American pot generation found cocaine, which they bought for $2,000 a kilo in Colombia and started selling for more than $55,000 in the United States. It explains how the incredible profit margins of cocaine attracted a motley assortment of kingpins, such as José Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, who was an emerald dealer before he got into the cocaine game.

Keywords:   cannabis, Colombian kingpins, American pilots, drug mules, American pot generation, drug smugglers

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