It's the stuff of which a mini-series is made: a cattle rancher becomes bored with the drudgery and poor profits out on the range, so he moves his family to the city to start a new life. His three sons dive into the new family business and make the old patriarch proud. In one particularly gripping episode, his beloved daughter is kidnapped and the brothers get her back with the spirit of the Magnificent Seven and the vengeance of Rambo.
But this family saga has a dark side that will keep it out of prime time. It is the true story of the first family of cocaine -- the Fabio Andres Ochoa clan of Colombia.
The Ochoas left cattle ranching in the mid-1970s to move to Colombia's second-largest city, Medellin, and start up a new business, drug smuggling.
By 1977, they had the attention of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. According to highly sensitive DEA files, the middle Ochoa son, Jorge Luis, had taken over the family organization and shipped 60 pounds of cocaine to Miami. It was seized by the DEA, which quickly linked the Ochoas to other huge shipments. The name of Jorge Ochoa now appears in more than 300 confidential DEA files.
The Ochoa family is one of five groups that make up the Medellin Cartel. It was formed in November 1981 because of an Ochoa family problem: Fabio's daughter Marta was kidnapped and held for ransom by Colombian terrorists. It wasn't anything personal. The terrorists routinely picked on wealthy families and used ransom money to finance terrorist activities. Fabio Ochoa convinced other drug traffickers in Colombia that they would be next.
So, Colombia's underworld formed a cartel for economic and security reasons. The first order of business was to put the terrorists in their place. The cartel ordered the murders of dozens of terrorists until the they finally turned over Marta unharmed in February 1982.
The DEA captured a formal cartel agreement from one member that spells out the Ochoas' contribution to the alliance. The family is in charge of ''enforcement.'' The Ochoas led the cartel's own terrorist group, and bribed Colombian military personnel and police for protection. They also hire hit men for assassinations, according to the cartel chart of duties.
The confidential DEA files say family patriarch Fabio still participates in the drug trafficking, but has ceded the leadership responsibilities to Jorge.
Juan David is the oldest Ochoa son. He keeps a lower profile than his brother Jorge, and his name is found in a little more than 30 DEA files. Juan David is believed to concentrate on the financial and investment end of the drug business.
Fabio Jr., is described by the DEA's sources as ''irresponsible, eccentric and emotional.'' This Ochoa problem child took over the drug business in 1984 when his brother Jorge was caught and imprisoned in Spain.
Fabio Jr. was arrested in San Cristobal, Venezuela, in July 1985 when he was linked to the seizure of 550 gallons of ether, a necessary component in the manufacture of cocaine. He was released, as was Jorge in Spain.
Fabio Jr. is the family's link to the guerrilla group M-19, which captured Marta. The family has since mended relations with M-19 and suborned the terrorists, providing guns and money in return for terrorist hits that benefit the family.
Jorge oversees the entire Ochoa empire and the transportation of drugs for the other members of the cartel, which supplies 80 percent of the cocaine used in the United States.
When Jorge was arrested in Spain in 1984, the United States wanted him extradited here, but Spain sent him instead to Colombia, where he was convicted not on drug charges but on a charge of smuggling 128 fighting bulls out of Spain. A Colombian judge ordered the billionaire drug kingpin to pay an $11,500 fine, and he was set free.