Sunday, August 8, 2004


In Spanish with English subtitles

Transporting cocaine from drug-producing countries to the marketplace has always been a challenge. In countries like Columbia and Peru, the use of trucks, light aircraft and fast speedboats are some of the traditional methods. More often it is people who are used to transport the drug; they are called mules.

Sometimes these mules are outfitted in tight fitting corsets and shorts with the cocaine sewn inside and then take a flight to their destination. Less sophisticated methods include duct-taping the packages of drugs around their legs, shins or stomach. Sometimes they are given false-bottomed suitcases or the drug is stuffed into wine bottles or fake shampoo bottles or even jars of jam. In one complex process, cocaine is liquefied and then applied to clothes as a "starch" which will later be melted off. Customs agents are also on the lookout for a new scheme that entails solidifying cocaine into flat discs that look like CDs.

However the most common method of transport is to have the mule ingest "capsules” of cocaine packaged in tied-off condoms or the fingers from surgical gloves. The mules are then given special drugs to stop regular digestive functions (such as the production of stomach acids that eat through plastic) and other drugs to delay the normal discharge of the stomach contents. Acute cocaine intoxication due to the bursting of capsules within their gastro-intestinal system is always present and can lead to death if not treated in time (generally by a surgical intervention known as a laparotomy which is the cutting through the walls of the abdomen, like a Caesarean section, and removing all the drug). Mules generally are paid $5 to $10,000 per trip depending upon the amount carried and the difficulty of infiltrating the particular country they are sent to.

Catalina Sandino Moreno: Maria Alvarez, a 17-year old working in a flower factory
Wilson Guerrero: her boyfriend Juan
Yenny Paola Vega: Maria’s friend Blanca
Jhon Alex Toro: Franklin, a young man Maria meets one night
Jaime Osorio Gómez: Javier, Franklin’s boss
Guilied López: Lucy, someone Maria meets in Bogata
Patricia Rae: Carla, Lucy’s sister living in Queens NYC
Orlando Tobón: Don Fernando, an ex-Columbian running a small business in Queens

One more story about someone deciding to break the law because they don’t see any better alternative. Told this time from the point-of-view of a young woman it is easy to understand how some people get into this situation. That doesn’t mean to say we need to condone her action but it does give us some insight. The acting by Maria in her movie debut is excellent.

for obscenity, violence and scenes of drug use.

As the movie tag line says “based on a 1,000 true stories” it comes across very much like a documentary because so much of what we see looks real.

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