Cocaine Smuggled in Dead Babies and Miami's Other Weirdest Urban Legends

Have you seen the skunk ape?
Have you seen the skunk ape?
screencap via YouTube

Miami has so many weird real-life tales that there's no need to make up fake ones. Yet humans love a good urban legend. Though they may not be factual, our best local tall tales do tend to reflect the culture of Miami, with everything from Hurricane Andrew to cocaine and the Everglades all adding to the lore.

Here are some of our favorite local legends. 

Cocaine Was Smuggled Inside a Dead Baby at Miami International Airport 
In the '80s, Miami's crime rate and drug rings were a thing of national fascination, and just about every big-name publication in America sent a reporter down to file a story on our "paradise lost." In 1985, the Washington Post ran a story titled "Drugs Making Miami Synonymous With Crime," and reporter Mary Thornton opened with this tale: 

A federal undercover agent talks about the case of the baby who did not move. An attendant on a flight from Colombia to Miami became suspicious and called U.S. Customs agents to have a look. They discovered that the baby had been dead for some time. Its body had been cut open, stuffed with cocaine and sewn shut.

Turns out, however, that the story was just a Miami myth. Obviously, using a baby to hide drugs wouldn't be the best plan since smugglers tend to hide their loot in things that don't draw attention. This story actually predates the height of Miami's Cocaine Cowboy era. This myth dates to at least the '70s, with the earliest version we can find involving hippies smuggling pot inside a dead body. The Post ended up retracting the story. 

But in reality, drugs have been smuggled into Miami in a variety of weird objects, including flowers, fried fish, coffee, and alpaca pillows, to name only a few. Never a dead baby, however. 

How deadly was Hurricane Andrew?
How deadly was Hurricane Andrew?
photo via NOAA archives

Bodies Were Stored in Refrigerated Burger King Trucks After Hurricane Andrew
When it struck South Florida in 1992, Category 5 Hurricane Andrew was the most destructive storm to hit the United States. Though thanks to evacuation efforts, the death toll was relatively low. Only 44 people died in Florida because of the storm (and 29 of those were due to indirect causes), just a fraction of the deaths caused by Hurricane Katrina 13 years later.

However, at the time, locals were certain Andrew was much deadlier. Stories spread that hundreds if not thousands of people had perished and that the bodies were stacked in Burger King shipping trucks and secretly disposed of — somewhere. The storytellers reasoned that officials didn't want to scare off tourists and that the local media (and apparently Burger King too) were complicit in covering up the conspiracy. The Miami Herald eventually looked into the rumors at the insistence of readers and found not a shred of evidence to support the claims

AIDS-Infected Monkeys Terrorized Miami After Hurricane Andrew
The second most popular urban legend stemming from Andrew actually has some truth to it. About 50 to 300 (the number varies even in news reports) rhesus monkeys at the University of Miami's primate research laboratory indeed escaped during the hurricane. Some were used in AIDS research. None was infected with HIV, though. Thousands of monkeys had also escaped from other locations. Word spread that all the monkeys loose on the streets were infected with AIDS and would infect humans, so people began shooting stray monkeys in the wake of the storm. 

Cocaine Smuggled in Dead Babies and Miami's Other Weirdest Urban Legends
via Miami Dolphins

The 1972 Dolphins Celebrate Every Time the Last Unbeaten Team Left in the NFL Is Defeated
The '72 Miami Dolphins are still the only team in modern NFL history to complete a perfect season, and, sure, certain members of the team remain cocky about it. But for years, people have been convinced that the old Fins held an organized ritual every season after the last unbeaten team in the league suffered its first lost.

There are two versions of this story, actually. The first goes that every living member of the Miami Dolphins buys a bottle of 1972 champagne at the beginning of the season and keeps it on ice. The moment the last unbeaten team falls, they all pop open the bottle simultaneously. The other version goes that somehow the remaining living members travel back to Miami to celebrate with coach Don Shula. 

According to Snopes, one such celebration involving just three remaining players may have happened in a Coral Gables parking lot one time, but there was never an organized yearly tradition. Of course, nowadays Dolphins fans on Twitter can usually be counted on to at least tweet a champagne emoji every time the team's record remains safe. 



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