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This article is about the Miami Vice episode. For the song by Glenn Frey, see Smuggler's Blues (Song).
Smuggler's Blues


15 (15th Overall)
February 1, 1985
Repeat Airdates
May 17, 1985
August 23, 1985
TV Rating
TV-14 V
Guest Stars
Previous Episode
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"Smuggler's Blues" is the fifteenth episode of Miami Vice's first season. It premiered on February 1, 1985, and was rerun on May 17, 1985 and August 23, 1985.


Crockett and Tubbs flush out a DEA leak with the help of a guitar-playing, free-thinking pilot.


Crockett, Tubbs, Switek and Zito are running surveillance on a known smuggler named Roberto Morales, who meets with another man on a bridge over one of Miami's many waterways. After the man leaves, Morales drops a bag into a cigarette boat that passes beneath the bridge, leading Crockett and Tubbs to wonder why a smuggler would give up the goods so easily. They then follow Morales to a houseboat, assuming he is going to collect his payment. However, they notice the silhouette of a woman tied up inside, and after Morales enters, the boat explodes.

At OCB, Castillo and his team discuss the incident with Homicide Lieutenant Charles Jones. The woman, revealed to be Morales' wife, was killed in the blast; Morales somehow survived, but has been left paralyzed from the waist down. Jones chalks it up to "the politics of contraband", although Crockett is concerned the smuggler's family was somehow involved. After Jones leaves, Castillo suggests Morales may be inclined to talk. The Lieutenant is then distracted by a phone call, after which he hands Crockett and Tubbs an address and tells them to meet him there.

The Vice cops arrive at an abandoned building, where they find Castillo, Trudy and DEA Special Agent Ed Waters waiting for them. Waters informs everyone that there have been five similar incidents involving other smugglers, and that each of the victims was currently under investigation by law enforcement, suggesting someone on their side of the law is involved. Hoping to flush out the leak, Waters offers Crockett and Tubbs a strictly voluntary assignment -- they are to travel to Cartagena posing as smugglers, where they will make a cocaine buy and bring the product back to Miami. Waters will circulate a false inter-agency memo about Crockett and Tubbs' activities, while Trudy will pose as Tubbs' "wife" (the "family bait") in the hopes whoever is responsible will go after her. The two Vice cops will be supported by Morales, who has agreed to ID Tubbs as his cousin, while the DEA will also furnish them with fake backgrounds and $1 million in cash. The catch is that they will be completely on their own -- no backup, no support, no pass through customs, and no transport provided. Despite the dangers, Crockett and Tubbs agree, handing their badges to Castillo before they leave.

The two Vice cops first go and see one of their contacts, the hard-partying Tucker Smith, for the name of a pilot. He sends them to Jimmy Cole, who they find playing his guitar at a dilapidated hangar. They proposition him, and for $25,000 up front he agrees to take them to Cartagena. Their transportation in place, Tubbs drops off Trudy at a hotel in Miami, and he and Crockett park Tubbs' Coupe de Ville at the drop site; before leaving, Tubbs stashes a pistol under the rear bumper, just in case. At the airfield, they briefly meet Jimmy's mechanic, Wavey Davey, before they board the plane with Jimmy and take off for Colombia.


Crockett and Jimmy pull their guns on Cartagena street thugs

In Cartagena, Crockett, Tubbs and Jimmy rent a room in a rundown part of town, across the street from where they are due to meet with the drug dealer they intend to buy from, a man named Grocero. After arguing and failing to agree on a price, Grocero says he will let Tubbs know when, or even if they will meet again. After leaving, Crockett and Tubbs are confronted by several armed men in an alleyway. They are rescued by Jimmy, but when the policía arrive Crockett and Jimmy are forced to flee, while Tubbs is taken into custody.

Back at their room, Crockett turns his anger on Jimmy for forcing him to leave his partner, but the two eventually come to an understanding over their shared history in the Vietnam War. Both men admit they have lost many friends along the way, principally during the war, but finally Crockett states that he will not be leaving Cartagena without Tubbs. Meanwhile, Tubbs is sat in jail, receiving rough treatment at the hands of the local policía. He is confronted by a Lieutenant named Todo, who reviews his extensive criminal record, concluding that it proves Tubbs is the long-time smuggler he says he is; satisfied, Todo tells him he is free to go, and that he and Crockett have a meeting with Grocero in 20 minutes.

The two Vice cops find Grocero in the smoke-filled but otherwise deserted Club Araña. Almost immediately, Tubbs pulls a hidden gun, pointing out that he does not appreciate the way he has been treated, but after some tense words the two sides come to an agreement. The exchange is made in a cemetery; Grocero arrives in one car containing the drugs, Tubbs arrives in another containing the money, and after the two men check what they are getting, they exchange keys and drive away. Things continue to go smoothly until Crockett and Tubbs arrive at the airstrip where Jimmy is waiting, when suddenly a large group of Grocero's men, trying to rip them off, storm the strip. Crockett prevents the gunmen from blocking the runway by ramming their cars together before jumping on board Jimmy's plane, which takes off in a hail of gunfire. The flight back to America goes without incident, and before landing Jimmy fakes engine trouble to allow them to drop their cargo low over the swamp.

After landing, Crockett and Tubbs return to the drop site to recover the drugs and load them into Tubbs' car. However, they are confronted by Wavey Davey and his accomplice Bruce, who hold them at gunpoint and tell them Trudy has been taken, demanding $500,000 in the next three hours if they ever want to see her alive again. The Vice cops are saved by Jimmy, who shows to stop Davey; a brief shootout breaks out in which both Jimmy and Davey are wounded, but Crockett and Tubbs manage to subdue the two gunmen. The Vice cops force Davey to contact the kidnapper and confirm that Trudy's "husband" will be in their hotel room in three hours to receive the call about where to drop the money. Meanwhile, Castillo locates Trudy thanks to a homing device she was given at the start of the operation; they find her in a trailer on a construction site, tied to a bomb. Crockett and Bomb Squad specialist Sam head into the trailer and begin defusing the device, having to take care not to set off the motion trigger. Meanwhile, Tubbs is told where to drop the money -- from the same bridge that Morales used.

Tubbs goes to the drop point and waits for word that Trudy is out. However, the contact arrives in the cigarette boat -- knowing that the kidnapper will detonate the trailer whether he receives the money or not, Tubbs throws the money into the boat and then jumps in after it. He wrestles with the masked driver, but is overpowered an knocked down. Holding the detonator in his hand, the masked man tells Tubbs that he will blow up the trailer unless he is allowed to walk; Tubbs points out that he's surrounded by police on every side. Realizing the hopelessness of his situation, the man triggers the detonator, and Tubbs shoots him down. Seeing the plume of smoke rising from the construction yard, Tubbs fears the worst, but he receives word from Crockett that everyone got out of the trailer before it blew. The dead kidnapper is pulled from the water and revealed to be Lieutenant Jones from Homicide. As he looks on, Waters expresses his disbelief that a fellow cop could turn bad like this, but is reminded by Tubbs what temptation can do to a person. Crockett and Tubbs console a very shaken-up Trudy after her ordeal. "The lure of easy money. The politics of contraband. The Smuggler's Blues."


Guest Stars[]



  • This episode was inspired by Glenn Frey's hit song "Smuggler's Blues", the lyrics of which discuss the issue of drug smuggling through Florida. Michael Mann heard the song on the radio and, noting its obvious connections with the primary focus of Miami Vice, asked Miguel Piñero (who played Esteban Calderone in two previous Vice episodes) to write an episode based around it. In fact, several of the song's lyrics are repeated or paraphrased in the episode's dialogue.
  • Frey would write another song, "You Belong to the City", specifically for Miami Vice, namely the season 2 opener "The Prodigal Son".
  • Much of the plot of the Miami Vice film is based on this episode, and both feature several similar scenes. For instance, Crockett and Tubbs' meet with José Yero in the movie is remarkably similar to their second meeting with Grocero in Club Araña in "Smuggler's Blues"; the scene in the film even reuses lines of dialogue from its equivalent in the series almost word for word. The subplot concerning Trudy's capture by the villains and being placed in a booby-trapped trailer also takes place in the movie.
  • Another plot similarity concerns the first half of the series finale, "Freefall" (which takes place four years later) -- both "Freefall" and "Smuggler's Blues" feature Crockett and Tubbs being sent to a fractious Latin American country by a third party to try and bring down a major drug dealer.
  • Beginning with this episode, the episode title and opening credits appear near the bottom of the screen, and will do so through to the middle of season 3. Previously this text appeared in the middle of the screen.
  • One recurring theme in Miami Vice is the presence of police leaks helping drug dealers. This time it's a police lieutenant that is the leak, not a judge, line officer or a clerk (as was the case in previous episodes).
  • An acoustic version of "Smuggler's Blues" can be heard at the end of the episode. As of yet it has never been commercially released (and with the death of Frey in 2016 it's likely never to be).
  • The convertible top on Tubbs' Coupe de Ville is seen raised during this episode, one of the few times this was done in the series.
  • "Trust Fund Pirates" from the second season was to be a direct sequel to this episode, but Glenn Frey was unavailable to reprise his role as Jimmy. Consequently, the script was changed to feature a smuggler friend of his (Jackson Crane, played by Gary Cole) who had taken over his hangar (Jimmy retired after the events of this episode) and knew all about "Burnett and Cooper".
  • Nelson Oramas would return as a bomb expert in the season 2 episode "Sons and Lovers"; although the character is not named in that episode, from the similarity of their roles it can be assumed it is the same individual. Behind the camera, Oramas also co-wrote the fourth season finale "Mirror Image".
  • In some DVD releases, this episode's visual quality is much grainier and more aged than the rest of the season 1 episodes. The reason for this is unknown.
  • The yacht blown up in the opening sequence used to belong to actress Bette Davis, called the Christmas Tree. The 1926 83-foot wood-hulled boat was once used by Davis to entertain guests in the 1930s, by the time of its' destruction it was held in Watson Marina, requiring four pumps to prevent it from sinking into Biscayne Bay, and was sold to Vice producers for $500. It's planned destruction before Christmas Day, 1984, was delayed due to government red tape (caused by environmental concerns), Don Johnson's illness, and a no-show by singer Iggy Pop for a role in the episode which held up filming.
  • This episode features one of Crockett's rare trips out of state on Miami Vice. Over the course of the series, he also travelled to Saint Andrews Island (in "Calderone's Return (Part II)"), New York (twice, in "The Prodigal Son" and "Heroes of the Revolution"), Los Angeles (in "Rock and a Hard Place") and Costa Morada (in "Freefall"), as well as a second trip to Colombia in "The Prodigal Son". He also mentions trips to Orlando and Atlanta that happen off-screen.


  • At the very beginning when everyone is briefing in the conference room, Zito answers the phone, then pushes the hold button on the office telephone before passing it to Castillo. However, Castillo forgets to press the hold button again before talking.
  • When Switek is filming Morales on the bridge at the beginning of the episode, the movement of Morales' lips does not match the (muffled) dialogue that can be heard.
  • There is an awkward jump cut between the first and second explosions at the trailer, during which time the entire trailer tilts significantly backwards, exposing the edit.
  • Mountains can be seen in the background when Crockett and Tubbs are entering the "local Miami" hangar where Jimmy hangs out. There are no mountains in Florida.
  • The engines on Jimmy's plane are fitted with three-blade propellers, but in the closeup shot of one of the engines starting, it is suddenly fitted with a two-blade propeller.
  • In the scene where Crockett and Tubbs are approached by a woman in the street in Cartagena, a Puerto Rican 25 mph speed limit sign can clearly be seen in the background, making it a dead giveaway that this whole part of the episode was not filmed in Colombia.
  • In the hotel room after Tubbs is arrested, Jimmy hands Crockett a cigarette -- at first he is holding it between his thumb and his index finger, but in the next shot it is between his index and middle fingers. In the next shot, Jimmy suddenly has another cigarette.
  • During the shootout in the swamps, Jimmy is hit by a mystery gunshot fired after Davey and Bruce have been subdued. It seems he is supposed to be hit by the single round Bruce gets off at the start of the shootout, before Crockett subdues him, but Jimmy being struck by the bullet is not shown until 6-7 seconds later, after Tubbs has recovered his concealed gun and dealt with Davey inside the car. The editing mismatch also means Crockett suddenly jumps from being at the front of Tubbs' car to standing beside Jimmy helping him up at the end of the shootout.
  • When Tubbs is waiting to make the delivery on the bridge, a piece of footage of him nervously pacing is clearly shown in reverse before then immediately being played again forwards.

Production Notes[]

  • Filmed: December 12, 1984 - January 11, 1985
  • Production Number: 59514
  • Production Order: 15

Filming Locations[]

  • Brickell Key Bridge, Miami (bridge in opening scene and final scenes)
  • west side of Watson Island, MacArthur Causeway (boat explosion in teaser)
  • Biscaya Hotel 540 West Ave, Miami Beach (meet VICE-DEA in opening titles, location gone)
  • old airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico (Crockett/Tubbs meet guitar playing Jimmy)
  • Congress Hotel 1036 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach (Tubbs drops Trudy off at hotel)
  • Opa Locka West Airport, N.Okochobee Rd/Krome Ave, Miami Gardens GPS: 25.953122, -80.419036 (Tubbs hides gun underneath his car, airstrip and shooting when leaving „Colombia“, NE corner of airstrip: Crockett and Tubbs retrieve package and are stopped by Wavy Davy, Jimmy intervenes)
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico (Colombia scenes): Isla Grande Regional Airport (Crockett, Tubbs and Jimmy lift off in Miami), La Perla district, intersection Cll Bajada matadero/Bulevar del Valle (Crockett/Tubbs arrive at Colombian hotel, meet with Grocero vis a vis of the hotel at stone wall and side street where Tubbs is caught), Fuerte San Felipe del Morro (jail scenes with Tubbs), La Arana Club 213 Calle del Sol (club scenes with Grocero) and Cemeterio de Santa Maria Magdalena, at the end of Calle San Miguel Road (cemetery)
  • SW 6th Street/SW Miami Avenue Road, Miami (Crockett phone call)
  • SE 5th Street east of S. Miami Ave at the Miami River, Miami (Trailer with Trudy tied to bomb)
  • Tucker´s drug party was a studio set


Jan Hammer Music[]

  • "Crockett's Theme" (Crockett and Jimmy talk in hotel, Tubbs and Grocero make the exchange)


  • "The politics of contraband doesn't involve killing children!" -- Crockett to Lt. Jones
  • "I ain't John Wayne and I don't have an "S" on my chest, so be brief about your business when you get there!" -- Jimmy to Crockett and Tubbs
  • "I always like to take a good-bye look at America, just in case it's my last!" -- Jimmy
  • "This place is like Dodge City, 1985" -- Crockett about Cartagena
  • "I'll call room service, have them wipe up the furniture." -- Crockett
  • "How about if I just blow that coke right back out of you, amigo?" -- Tubbs to Grocero
  • "We have business to look forward to, which we will never see if we close each other's eyes." --Grocero to Tubbs (Crockett used a variant of this line in a negotiation during the film version of Miami Vice.)
  • "Bottom line is M-O-N-E-Y!" -- Tubbs to Waters when he asks the motivation for Jones to turn bad
  • "We took your wife outta the motel this afternoon.... we'll put her back for five hundred grand" "Take the coke... it's worth twice that." "We ain't in the coke-sellin' business, we in the CASH business, you got three hours to raise it." -- Wavey Davey and Tubbs
Season 1 Episodes:

"Brother's Keeper" (Pilot) "Heart of Darkness" "Cool Runnin'" "Calderone's Return (Part I)" "Calderone's Return (Part II)" "One Eyed Jack" "No Exit" "The Great McCarthy" "Glades" "Give a Little, Take a Little" "Little Prince" "Milk Run" "Golden Triangle (Part I)" "Golden Triangle (Part II)" "Smuggler's Blues" Rites of Passage "The Maze" "Made for Each Other" "The Home Invaders" "Nobody Lives Forever" "Evan" "Lombard"