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Top 10 Movies Based on Drug Trafficking

Published on 3 July, 2013 at 4:00 am By

Drug deals, smuggling and drug lords are more real than how they’re depicted in movies, and so are their fatal consequences. Most movies based on drug trafficking might show a lot of gangster-action and guys wearing leather jackets firing tons of ammo on the cops, but there are some movies, which are more than this. Even otherwise, the best way to peep into the secret underworld of mafias indulged in drug trafficking are the movies. Here is some help to choose the best ones to watch. We have compiled a list of top 10 movies based on drug trafficking.

10. Midnight Express (1978):

Based on the true story of an American student, Billy Hayes, Midnight Express is an American/British film. The movie narrates the story of tempting smuggling offer made to a student, who later tries to smuggle hash from Turkey to the country, but is caught and sent to a Turkish jail. In jail, he faces the most horrible dream of his life. Mostly, the movie shows what a convict goes through after being caught. One time watch for sure!

Midnight Express

9. Training Day (2001):


For this 2001 American crime drama film directed by Antoine Fuqua, Denzel Washington won the Academy Award for the best actor. The film was a huge hit and warmly received by even the critics. A dedicated L.A.P.D. detective and his questionable as well entertaining ways to handle the drug mafia flooding the streets of South Central Los Angeles, makes it worth watching.

Training Day

8. Cocaine Cowboys (2006):

Although it’s a documentary movie, it is best ever telling true tale of how Miami of 1980s was transformed into the drug capital of America by drug lords. Directed by Billy Corben, it was released in 2006.  The peaceful city is invaded by the Colombian Mafia that brought with it violence and rage.  Watch it if you ever wonder how Miami became one of the popular drug trafficking hubs on the map.

Cocaine Cowboys

7. Blow (2001):

What makes Blow a must watch is that it’s based on the true story of American cocaine smuggler named George Jung. The movie shows how a young boy struggles in poverty, finds huge riches in smuggling cocaine to California and then loses all of it. Secondly, the adapted screenplay from Bruce Porter’s 1993 book ‘Blow: How a Small Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellín Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All’, makes it a must watch.

Blow (2001)

6. The French Connection (1971):

The movie is first ever to win the Academy Award for the best picture despite being placed in R-rated category. The French Connection is a 1971 American dramatic thriller film directed by William Friedkin. It’s an adaptation of a non-fiction book by Robin Moore, and this name promises you an intelligent and entertaining drama. The theme is the quest of two dedicated NYC undercover detectives to bust a criminal, who is one of the largest drug suppliers of heroin to North America. For that, they are about to hunt for huge drug shipment coming from France.

The French Connection

5. Goodfellas (1990):

No movie would give a better account of rise of small time gangster to the king of a drug empire, and subsequently, his downfall in later stages of life. Goodfellas is an American crime film. It narrates the story of an ambitious boy, who quits school and joins drug mafia despite his father’s effort to stop him. The series of events takes place from 1955 to 80s. The movie shows how Henry could sell drugs from jail, and how after getting out of jail his hunger for wealth and power grows even bigger. However, later in his life he has a nervous wreck from cocaine, suffered from insomnia, and devastated his family after he went bankrupt. A great drama woven very carefully, and is definitely worth watch.


4. Traffic (2000):

Perhaps, this American drama by Steven Soderbergh is one of the best films showing the world of drug trafficking from different perspectives. How the user sees it; how the politicians and corrupt officials are involved; what does a smuggler do to save his empire; what happens when a Judge entrusted with the responsibility of curbing drug mafia from American streets finds his own daughter to be an addict; and with a lot more peeps, Traffic is a great drama with interrelated stories, but smoothly played on screen.

Traffic (2000)

3. American Gangster (2007):


This movie is one of the best on drugs trade. A drug dealer does something clever to supply quality drugs at cheaper rates to the street market of Manhattan, and outshines other rival dealers. The story is set in 1970s. Frank Lucas, a heroin kingpin from Manhattan, builds his empire by smuggling the drug from eastern countries. American Gangster, a 2007 American biographical drama film, is one of the finest by Ridley Scott and was well received by the viewers. Russell Crowe himself worked with Scott on film’s script.  That added to the depth of screenplay for sure. The film gives a complete depiction of drug deals on Streets of New York.

American Gangster

2. City of God (2002):

It’s Fernando Meirelles this time with his awesome Brazilian crime drama, based on the novel of same title. The movie is inspired from real events during 1960s and the beginning of 1980s. It presents a closer perspective on how organized crime saw growth in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro. A war between the drug dealer Li’l Zé and criminal Knockout Ned is what the movie is based on. The theme of Rio de Janeiro inspired many movies with similar themes, but to mention the best, City of Gods is the one. It’s a high dose of unmatchable crime thrill.

City Of God

1. Scarface (1983):


The movie has retained its title being the best of all movies ever made on 1980s cocaine boom. A Cuban refugee comes to Miami and explores his share of wealth involved in drug trafficking during 1980s when the country was sinking into white powder. Scarface was rebuked by Cubans for it includes lots of violent crime scenes in Cuba with Cuban natives depicted to have high criminal tendencies. In a way, the Cuba’s image of a crime hub was escalated after the release of movie. However, this 1983 American crime film by Brian De Palma and starring Al Pacino is definitely the best watch in the genre of drug trafficking.



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