The Cowboy Mafia was the nickname for a group of marijuana smugglers who operated in the United States during the 1970s. At the time they were reportedly the most prolific drug smugglers in Texas. The nickname was given to the group by the Dallas media, as the capture and trial of the group created significant media coverage throughout Texas.
During 1977 and 1978 the group imported over 106 tons of marijuana. Using the shrimp boats Agnes Pauline, Monkey, Jubilee, and Bayou Blues, the group made six trips from Colombia to Texas. The group was arrested in 1978 after the federal government seized the Agnes Pauline when they were unloading their cargo in Port Arthur, Texas.
Trial and conviction
In 1979, 26 members of the smuggling ring were convicted. Charles “Muscles” Foster, a ranch foreman and the head of the operation, pleaded innocent by reason of insanity and was acquitted in 1980.
In August 1981, Rex Cauble was indicted by a grand jury, as the government believed he was the financial backer of the smugglers. Foster was the foreman for his ranches and the drugs were transported to Cauble's ranches throughout Texas. Cauble was a multi-millionaire, the former chairman of the Texas Aeronautics Commission and an honorary Texas Ranger. He was also the owner of Cutter Bill, a famous cutting horse.
Cauble was convicted in January 1982 on ten counts including: two counts of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act statute (RICO), conspiracy to violate RICO, three violations of the Interstate Commerce Travel Act, and four counts of misapplication of bank funds. He was sentenced to ten concurrent terms of five-years. He completed his prison term and was released in September 1987. Cauble died in 2003.
As a result of the RICO conviction, Cauble forfeited his 31% interest in Cauble Enterprises. This included interests in: two Cutter Bill Western World stores, three Texas banks (Western State Bank in Denton, Dallas International Bank and South Main Bank of Houston), six ranches, a welding supply company, and oil and gas holdings. The company's worth was estimated at $80 million. However, the government sold their interest back to the other partners (Cauble's wife and son) for an estimated $12 million. In Fall, 2017 "Catching the Katy" a pseudo-semi-nonfiction book written by Barker Milford was released through Dorrance Publishing depicting additional accounts of The Cowboy Mafia.
- 58 F. 2d 279 - United States v. Hawkins E J
- 659 F. 2d 624 - United States v. Hamm
- 666 F. 2d 261 - United States v. Ruppel
- Texas millionaire indicted Associated Press The Spokesman-Review August 8, 1981 
- Pot smuggling trial could topple Texas dynasty. United Press International, by Deborah A. Wormser. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. January 10, 1982 
- Rex Cauble Convicted Associated Press January 29, 1982 Victoria Advocate 
- Guilty Verdict Shocks Cowboy Drug Smuggler United Press International January 29, 1982 The Bryan Times 
- The Long Voyage Home New York Times January 31, 1982
- 706 F.2d 1322: United States of America, Plaintiff-appellee, v. Rex C. Cauble 
- "Cauble Loses Fight for Freedom June 22, 1984 Dallas Morning News" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 6, 2014. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
- REX CAUBLE: 1913-2003 Rancher ‘did a lot of things his way’ Dallas Morning News June 25, 2003  Archived 2014-06-06 at the Wayback Machine Archived 2014-06-06 at the Wayback Machine
- Government nears settlement with Cauble Enterprises Associated Press The Paris News June 5, 1985 
- A License to Steal: The Forfeiture of Property By Leonard Williams Levy ISBN 9780807822425