Synopsis: "Cocaine Wars" goes undercover with an elite team of drug officers trying to stop the smuggling of cocaine through airports into North America.
About half the world’s cocaine comes from Colombia and much of it passes through El Dorado International Airport in Bogota. Here, drug couriers, or “cocaine mules” risk their lives for a few thousand dollars to transport coke into the United States and Canada. The mules work for billion-dollar drug cartels that devise ever more ingenious methods to evade detection.
With unique access never granted before, the documentary follows a team of American DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agents as they prowl the terminals of the Bogota airport, tracking down drug couriers with hidden loads of coke. They also bust a smuggling ring of U.S. military servicemen carrying cocaine from Bogota to towns near their old military bases in Italy. And they team up with Colombian commandos to take down a major coke supplier by carrying out simultaneous raids of his bases in multiple cities.
“The object of any DEA investigation is to go as high up the food chain as you can, all the way to the guy who calls all the shots, who’s financing the organizations. The guy who’s living the fattest - that’s the guy you want to go after,” says special agent “Jack”, whose name has been changed for his own safety.
In the documentary, we see the agents use wiretap information, drug-sniffing dogs, X-rays and high-stakes stakeouts to uncover cocaine in unusual places. Often its swallowed in pellet form by mules, who can die from an overdose if the pellet breaks. In one case, a man tries to board a flight with 5 kilograms of liquid cocaine hidden inside a climbing rope.
The cameras roll as the mules, often poor Colombians, are detained and questioned. One man has even brought his 3-year-old daughter along for the flight. When drugs are found in his suitcase, he explains that he wanted the money to keep his family from being evicted from their apartment. “I fell into this trap as an easy way out,” he says. “I don’t want anything to happen to my daughter. Kids shouldn’t have to pay for their parents’ mistakes." (Courtesy National Geographic, 2014)
"Cocaine Wars" is produced by Hoggard Films for National Geographic Channels.