Miami, December 31, 1979. Lock your doors. Watch your backs. Raise your glasses. Miami is about to blow, in a fiery explosion of cocaine, blood, bullets, torched cars, cash, immigrants, hustlers, dopers, informants, corruption, body bags and inner tubes.
Behind the bar at the Hotel Mutiny, the hottest ticket in town as the clock approached 1980, waitresses and bellhops were stacking whiskey totes full of the white stuff. The tips -- pure cocaine packed in hundred-dollar bills -- were sluicing in. Everyone was trying to bribe their way to a coveted New Year's Eve table at the hotel's swanky, members-only Club, desperate to sit among the star-studded guest list, and to party with America's biggest cocaine kingpins.
In the seventies, coke hit Miami with the full force of a hurricane, and no place attracted dealers and dopers like Coconut Grove's Mutiny at Sailboat Bay. Hollywood royalty, rock stars, and models flocked to the hotel's club to order bottle after bottle of Dom and to snort lines alongside narcos, hit men, and gunrunners, all while marathon orgies burned upstairs in elaborate fantasy suites.
Amid the boatloads of powder and cash reigned the new kings of Miami: three waves of Cuban immigrants vying to dominate the trafficking of one of the most lucrative commodities ever known to man. But as the kilos-and bodies-began to pile up, the Mutiny became target number one for law enforcement.
Based on exclusive interviews and never-before-seen documents, Hotel Scarface is a portrait of a city high on excess and greed, an extraordinary work of investigative journalism offering an unprecedented view of the rise and fall of cocaine-and the Mutiny-in Miami.
Roben Farzad has reported everywhere from Mozambique and Botswana to the West Bank and the slums of Medellin, Colombia, to the Dominican Republic and the warn-torn Niger Delta.
He spent nine years as a senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek, where he covered Wall Street, international finance, Latin America and Miami. He has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe and Miami Herald, and is a regular on MSNBC, CNN, NPR, C-SPAN and the PBS NewsHour.
Farzad is a graduate of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs and the Harvard Business School, and has lectured students and at NYU, CUNY and Columbia. Born in Iran, he was raised in Miami and now lives in Virginia with his wife and their two kids, who also enjoy reruns of Miami Vice.