Colombian cartels were immediately suspected of the attacks, partly because Judge Vance dealt with numerous drug cases. Robinson, meanwhile, had been scheduled to attend a community event on drug abuse on the day he died. However, Miami’s federal Drug Enforcement Administration dismissed such suspicions as not fitting “the pattern of threats … received from Colombians in the last few years.”
Investigators instead began exploring a possible political motive. Judge Vance had long been involved in the civil rights movement. In 1968 he’d been chairman of the Alabama Democrats and had included African Americans in the state delegation of the Democratic National Convention for the first time. And in 1978 he was appointed to the Federal bench by President Jimmy Carter.