Monday, May 14, 2012

The real Scarface, based on the life of Roberto Suarez Gomez, the King of cocaine. Miami Vice style

In July 21, 1988, Bolivian police finally arrested Roberto Suarez Gomez, the biggest cocaine trafficker of all times. It took only a decade to authorities to finally catch up with Suares Gomez; and after years of tracking him down, through the thick Bolivian jungles, on July 21, 1988, the Bolivian Police Special Task Forces assaulted Surez Gomez's Roman style Villa/ ranch, and arrested the real life Scarface. Interestingly, Suarez Gomez wasn't even hiding nor "escaping"from authorities, everyone knew in Bolivia where he lived, people just chose to ignore the fact that the real life Scarface lived amongst them. Suarez Gomez was actually considered by people living around his ranch, as a celebrity, a benefactor, the "rich guy next door, no one considered him to be "dangerous or knew that Suarez Gomez was the most wanted person in the world for over 10 years.
Few months before Suarez Gomez's arrest, the chief Assistant United States Attorney, Richard D. Gregorie, then in Miami, Fla, said: ''He's the biggest cocaine producer in the world. He has enormous acreage in coca plants.'' Additionally, the Ministry said that Suarez Gomez would be extradited to the US as soon as possible to face numerous and serious charges in Miami, to include: drug trafficking, conspiracy, RICO charges, et cetera. 

At the time of his arrest, Roberto Suarez Gomez, was 56 years old, in great health and joking about the entire "farce." Suarez Gomez was the biggest-ever supplier of cocaine to the US and Europe for more than 10 years. His network of distribution in the 80's included Colombian cartels, then in diapers, and somehow run by the then, Start-up Griselda Blanco in Miami, and a new young character, Pablo Escobar. Both of them ruthless and violent traffickers moving Suarez'product from Bolivia, to Colombia to Panama, and finally to the swamps of Miami Florida, USA. The Colombians would sneak in the Bolivian cocaine in speed boats and small airplanes, and would drop them in the swamps or in clandestine piers in Miami.
It is almost funny to learn nowadays, that back in the late 70's and the entire decade of 1980, a small South American country, with about 6 million people, supplied 2/3 of all cocaine consumed in the USA and Europe. Tons and tons of cocaine got to Miami right under the noses of the Coast Guard and the DEA. Cocaine use during the 80's, was so rampant in Miami, that street-level dealers were invited to parties to sell their products and were considered local celebrities. Everyone knew them and their identities but no one did much about them. The US law enforcement was still trying to understand the new phenomenon. Police officers and authorities have never dealt with a situation like the one that was developing to fast in Miami. Government assigned money for drug interdiction was not enough at the time. The little government budget was not even enough to pursue small leads to drug activity in the city and in the state. Intel was minimal or inexistent, and even though, TV shows like Miami Vice, tried to portray a well-prepared and very efficient Miami police force, the reality was brutal and out of control. Today's movie goer would watch an episode of Miami Vice, starring Don Johnson, and laugh all the way, due to the innocent and naive portrayal of the drug fighting efforts of the time. That was the Age of Innocence of American Anti-Drug war. 
Roberto Suarez Gomez, Griselda Blanco and the new player Pablo Escobar, were committed to turn Miami in the 1980's, into what is today Medellin or Cartagena Colombia, or worst, Northern Mexico today. It took, the then Vice-President George Bush Sr., to fly in person to Miami and publicly declare that the USA will not allow any foreign thugs to turn Miami, or any part of our country for that matter, into another Colombia or Mexico. We all thank God for that immediate response from our Federal Government, otherwise , Florida and other states would be lawless lands like we see now in northern and southern Mexico and the eastern half of Colombia, run by drug thugs and assassins playing their deadly game just under the impotent noses of their weak governments. 
People like Roberto Suarez Gomez showed us, Americans, that if let unchecked and out of control, drug lords and thugs would run entire regions and countries, because they have the money that can buy any politician in the countries they have their base of operations in. Suarez financed the Coup the etat of 1980 in Bolivia and put a puppet president on the presidencial chair, Luis Garcia Meza, and his ministry of the Interior, Luis Arce Gomez. Both of whom were Army Generals that would allow Suarez to do and undo in Bolivia in exchange for a cut of the profits. In order to maintain control of the nation, Garcia Meza and Arce-Gomez would rule with an Iron Fist. Thousands of people died and disappeared in Bolivia during the reign of terror. Anyone opposing the puppet government was kidnapped, tortured and killed by the national police or the military itself. Bolivians still remember one of Arce Gomez' TV communicates: He literally said "anyone that does not like or approve of us, the national government, better walk around with his last will under the arm". That was a brutal threat to all the Bolivian people, coming from their own Ministry of the Interior, representing the words of their Bolivian president. Amazing and unbelievable in today's standards. 
Garcia Meza and Arce Gomez, under direct request from Suarez Gomez, as heads of the Bolivian government, hired Italian and German mercenaries to wipe out any competition to Suarez and any opposition to the government. Thousands of political leaders and heads of opposing political parties died or disappeared in less that one year in 1980 in Bolivia; Their relatives do not know the whereabouts of those individuals even today, 32 years later. 
Finally, yes, it is accurate to say that Roberto Suarez Gomez was the real Scarface, even though what he did and caused was not glamorous at all.