Episode #2 - Narco Mindset Podcast - How the Medellin Drug Cartel was formed.
NARCO MINDSET Podcast - Episode #2
True Stories how the Medellin Drug Cartel was formed.
February 5, 2020
The Host: Jorge Valdes Ph.D. ... Author, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and You Tuber
Co-Host: Anthony Petrucci
Narco Mindset is an enlightening, informative, effortlessly entertaining podcast. It contains compelling RAW storytelling and intellectually honest talk about life. We will be delving into life challenges, life miracles, life recovery, and life opportunities. It illuminates a new generation on the power and the impact of a positive mindset.
In episode two, Dr. Valdes continues telling his story as a founding member of the group that became known as the Medellin Drug Cartel. In this episode, listeners will hear stories that have never been told detailing the beginning of the Medellin Drug Cartel. As we see movies like American Made or watch series like Narcos, no one seems to ask how did this all begin? After all, Pablo Escobar did not even come into power until the early ’80s. Who was responsible for creating a massive cocaine trade in America starting in 1975? This episode is the beginning of the group that became known as the Medellin Drug Cartel.
Please click play to hear life-altering stories.
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TRANSCRIPTION OF EPISODE #2
Intro: Before we watched TV shows and movies on Narcos and even before Pablo Escobar’s rise to fame, there was one man who was the ultimate Narco. He lived the Narco life of greed, money and power but found a way to reclaim his life and use his astonishing experiences to empower others to live a life of hope, meaning and redemption. Welcome to the Narco Mindset podcast where Dr. Jorge Valdes shares his journey through life before and after the Medellín Drug Cartel. From torture and multiple prison sentences to how he refocused his life onto a path of principles learnt as a Narco. It’s time to share that raw truth with you, right here on the Narco Mindset podcast with your host, Dr. Jorge Valdes.
Jorge: Thank you for tuning in to episode 2 of the Narco Mindset podcast. I am your host, Jorge Valdes. Episode number 2 is really where things really get heavy. In episode number 2 that you are about to hear, you are going to find out stories behind the real stories. You are going to hear things that have never been told before. I’m sure that for those of you who are fans of Narcos, that are fans of American Made, Blow, all the original ... Cocaine Cowboys, all those movies, you never ever wonder, how did all these begin? Most of those stories start with a central figure who’s already a big, powerful boss, a lot of power, a lavish lifestyle, but how did that begin? Who was there from the beginning? Who was there when this all started? Who were the original Narcos? There’s a story behind all those stories.
Think about this, most of those stories that you’ve seen on TV began in 1982. Pablo Escobar did not even come into the scene until late ’81, beginning of ‘82. But who started the cocaine trade on massive amounts in 1976 in the United States? In this episode, you are going to hear how crossing one line, a young man that never wanted to do nothing wrong, thinking that, “All I’m going to do is just make $100,000 or have enough money to get me through until I go to law school and start my own business.” Well, today, you are about to hear a pretty exciting story. The true story. Unadulterated, not cleansed, real raw, how it all began.
One day, I had this genius idea. I was getting ready to go to Colombia to tell Manuel how things were going with the banana boat. I’m getting ready to go to Colombia to give Manuel an assessment on how the boat is coming, when did I think it was going to be finished, and when we’ll start planning the first shipment. I came up with this amazing plan. What I’m going to do is two things. I’m going to find out from Jaime how much cocaine costs in Miami, and then I’m going to go to Mel, and I’m going to say, “Listen, cocaine is X,” and then just give him a crazy price. For example, I found out that you could buy cocaine in Miami for roughly $48,000 even though the people like Jaime that I was selling for that was actually buying it for $38,000. So, I said, “Perfect.” So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to tell them that it’s $70,000 a kilo. No way they’re going to pay that huge premium, so they are going to leave me alone and find another seller.
When I thought about that idea, I’m like, “Perfect. I’ll tell Manuel that I’m willing to handle US operations but the thing about is, just like the banana company, they’ve got to make me partner.” If I’m going to be in the US, upfront, raise my life, I want to be equal partners, and at the same time, I don’t have any money to put up. I was so convinced and so happy that once I got there and made that proposal, they were going to look at me and say, “Who the hell does this punk kid think he is? We [inaudible 00:03:30] run off his mouth and kick his ass all the way to California non-stop.” Then I could just go back to doing what I was doing, that I was happy with. Before I leave, I call Mel and say, “Hey Mel, I want to be honest with you. I know we are close friends now, can I come clean with you?” We are, man. We’re drug dealers but listen. We only sell pure. We only sell the best of the best, so every kilo, $70,000. Take it or leave it, let me know. All cash.”
Little did I realize that that’s how the business was all cash anyways, but that’s how stupid I was. What do you do? Give me a credit card? Pay me a check? Hang up the phone, got on the airplane, headed for Colombia. I was so happy. There I was, sitting on my big old first-class seat ticket that they were paying for. I got there, and I gave them a report of how everything was going, that we should be ready to send the ship to Colombia in about a month. We had gotten all the licenses. We’d gotten contracts with the banana companies. We were ready to go. I had everything set up to the second. I said, “But Manuel, I want to talk to you about something else. Do you know how you’ve been asking me for the last three months that you want me to handle all your drug operations in the United States? I’ll tell you what. I’ve been thinking about it. I’ll do it.”
He smiled, and he was like, “I knew this kid would come to his senses sooner or later.” He looked at me and said, “I’m very happy, Jorge. You’re never going to regret it.” I said, “Yeah, but hold on a second, I have a condition.” He said, “Well, what is that?” I said, “Manuel, if I’m going to risk my life in the United States, and I’m going to handle these drug operations for you, I’ve got to be equal partners, and I’ve got no money to put.” See, they were buying cocaine in Colombia at that time roughly between $18,000 and $23,000 a kilo. If they were bringing in 20 kilos, that is four hundred and somewhat thousand dollars. It was four of them and me, five. That means I owned one-fifth of that or about 80 grand. I had no money for that. He said, “Fine, we’ll think about it.” I went ahead and I left. I went to my hotel room, and I was so happy. I knew that I was finally going to have freedom on both sides.
Went out that night, went out to dinner with them and all that, and right before dinner was over, Manuel looked at me, he had his partners there with him, and he’s like, “Jorge, deal. You become US head, and we’ll send the drugs out to you, and you distribute them.” I didn’t know what the hell to say. Literally, I went into shock. First of all, I had no idea what cocaine even looked like. Number two, distribute to who? I had no clients or how do you even get it to clients? Can you imagine, here are these people who were the original group that became the Medellín Cartel, controlled 95% of all the cocaine that came into America, all of a sudden taking this 20-year-old punk kid, and I’m going to be in charge of distributing all that, selling it, collecting the money, bring it to the United States? I was like, “Man, I don’t know what the hell to do.”
I was hoping that on my way back to California that damn plane would crash so I wouldn’t have to think about it anymore. Then things even got a little more complicated than that. When I got off the airplane, Mel was picking me up at the airport. I get in the car and he says to me, “Man, I’ve got great news for you, Jorge.” I said, “Really, Mel? What’s that?” He said, “You won’t believe this but I made the proposal to my friends, and they said they’ll do it. They want 3 kilos to start things out with.” I’m like, “Well, that’s great news. Let me talk to my people. Great news.” Inside, literally, I started shivering. It was like someone just kicked me in the testicles. I didn’t even have words to speak.
When we got to my house, and he left, the first thing I did, I called Jaime. I said, “Jaime, I’ve got to talk to you. I’m coming to Miami tomorrow.” Fly to Miami the next day, and he’s like, “What is the problem, you sounded very agitated.” I said, “Yeah, I’ll tell you what the problem is. I made this stupid offer to this guy so that he would leave me alone, and you guys leave me alone, and all of a sudden, he wants three kilos. I don’t even know what the fuck three kilos look like.” He was like, “Oh man, Jorge, great news. How much?” I say, “I told him $70,000. Surely, that was too high.” He said, “Damn right it’s too high but I guess they’ve never seen cocaine in California. I can get it for $38,000, and we pay someone $2,000, $3,000 to take it out there. That’s $41,000. We can make $29,000. Three kilos, we are going to make almost $90,000 between two of us, we can make $45,000 in a matter of two days.” That day, I crossed the line.
Suddenly, I said to myself, and this is how we justify crossing lines. “You know what, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea. What if I just do two or three loads like that, I make 120 grand, that gives me enough money to help my parents buy a little house.” They had the same house that they had when they came from Cuba. Little did I know, they would never take a penny from me. I said, “But you know, a hundred and something thousand dollars gives me enough money to put me through law school without having to work and then I’m set. I’ll buy myself another apartment. All I want is $120,000. I’ll do three little deals, 10 kilos, done.”
We took the first load out there, and the first day, man, it was like the world was coming to an end. Mel picked me up, we went to a hotel. I gave him the three keys. He was supposed to give me $210,000, he gave me $100,000. He said I’ll have the rest in a couple of days. He took about three or four days. Every day, I just sat in that room just sweating wondering what happens. If these people disappear, if he doesn’t bring me the money, they’re going to kill me. Why did I do this? Everything that goes through your mind when you know you’ve made a bad choice. In two days, he brought the money, I took it to Miami, counted my money, it was more money than I had ever seen in my life.
Now, think about it, at that time, roughly we made about 40 grand apiece. You could buy a really nice, middle class, 4-bedroom, 3-bath house in Miami for roughly $30,000. You could buy a brand new Corvette for 4 grand. $40,000 to me was unbelievable. We got five kilos the second deal, and then on the third deal, we did 10 kilos. Everything went smooth but two things started to go wrong. Number one, the customer that Mel’s brother first got was a guy named Joey. He was part of the whole celebrity, partier, and wild, and I’m like, you know what, business is business, and this guy is going to get us all arrested. He’s hanging around with all these movie stars. He takes me to a party, and I told him not to ever let anyone know.
Well, the first thing, he introduces me, “Here is Jorge Valdes, the king of cocaine.” I’m sitting there, and all these people are looking at me like I’m the king of the world. There were movie stars there, supermodels. I had never done cocaine in my life. I remember this girl coming up to me, this gorgeous supermodel we all know, she had a spoon, a little spoon that they use to take a hit of cocaine, and she brings it up to me, and she says, “Come here Jorge, do a line with me.” I’m like, “No, you know what, I don’t do that. When I’m working, I don’t party, simply, business is business and pleasure is a pleasure.” The truth of the matter was I never did cocaine, never wanted to do cocaine, I never even drank alcohol. They opened a bottle of Dom Perignon, and we start drinking champagne and all. Then out of nowhere, I turn around and there she was, in her hand, she has some cocaine and she blew it right in my face. When I gasped, all that coccaine went into my throat, my nose. I felt like I wanted to vomit. This was really interesting.
In the drug cartel, when it all started, when this all began, nobody did any cocaine. When you look at all the stories, and you look at American Made, Narcos, you see about Pablo Escobar before he even existed, before he came into a map, we were already making $100 million a month. No one knows the story behind the story. Number one, that we started in 1976. Pablo Escobar came into fame in the ‘80s. We started in 1976 when in California, no one even knew what cocaine was. We were doing $100 million a month in 1977. Before you know it, I was selling between 700-800 kilos a month. So, that young kid that started at that time ends up becoming this major drug lord. How did I get there?
When I finish telling you this story, just think about this. This fall from being this honored kid to this rise ... at one time, according to the US government, one of the most powerful men in America responsible for 95% of all the cocaine that came into America only happened within a period of nine months to a year. It was not a long time. Anyway, I go back to Miami, and I went to a party. It was Jaime’s birthday. In life, some people handle alcohol differently. Some people get drunk and they are happy, other people get drunk and they go to sleep like me. I’ve never been drunk because I drink two drinks, and I’m out like a light. Then you’ve got a guy like Jaime who gets drunk and gets violent. That night, he got drunk and came up to me, and he accused me of having a sexual affair with his wife.
It really, really just burst everything inside of me because to me, I live my whole life that a friend of mine’s wife or their daughters or their sisters, they were sacred. There were too many women around for us to be messing around with someone that close to us. I remember looking at him, losing it. I remember taking out my gun. I don’t know how someone didn’t end up getting killed that night. I said, “You know what, we’re done. I’m finished with you. First of all, you know ...” Honestly, I was looking for an excuse to get out of this because I didn’t want to do this anymore.
I had already put away $300,000, $400,000 which was a fortune back then, and I said, “You take the banana boat, you take all of that, I don’t even want to see you again because you know what, the truth is, Jaime, I know one day we’re going to kill each other because you are a freaking idiot. Your wife to me is sacred. Your daughters are sacred.” He [inaudible 00:12:06]. This is a guy who had killed many, many people. It would have been so easy for him to kill a kid that was 20 years old probably because even in his drunkenness, he saw the potential or how much money I meant to him. I walked away, and I went home. I was sort of relieved. I can go back to my accounting practice, enroll in law school as I had originally planned many years ago, and live my life the way I always wanted it to be and put this behind me as a bad experience.
About three weeks, Jaime came over to the office, and I signed my stocks and all my shares to him and thought I was done. Two weeks later, I get a phone call, and it was Manuel Garces. I’m like, “I wonder what this idiot has told them. Are they going to kill me?” After all, they knew too much, number one. Number two, I was still handling their money. Not for Jaime, but for Mani’s group. He says, “Can you meet me at my house in 30 minutes?” When they made an invitation like that, it wasn’t like, “Can you meet me at my house?” It was sort of like, “Damn, you better have your ass over here in 30 minutes.” I said, “Of course.” I went out there not knowing what to expect, but I had a clear conscience. I had done nothing wrong.
We said hello, pleasantries. He looked at me, we sat down, and he said, “Jorge, what happened with Jaime?” I told him detail by detail. I even told him everything we did in California, the money that we made, and I said, “You know, Mani, the guy is an idiot. He’s a nice person but when he drinks, he becomes an animal. I’m not like that. I wasn’t raised like that. I just don’t want to do anything with him. Sorry, you guys you are indirectly involved but I have to walk.” He didn’t care about the banana business, the banana boat. He looked at me and said, “You still have those clients in California?” I said, “Yeah.” I said, “You know what, they wanted more. The last time we sold them was 10 kilos, and they came back, I had found a new buyer. The original buyer started becoming very flashy, so we ended up changing and found a guy that wanted 100 kilos a month.” He’s like, “Screw Jaime, I want you to handle things for us. I talked with my partners, you can be equal partners. In two weeks, we have our first load coming in.”
Part of me was just elated with joy, and the other part of me was just petrified. How do I do this? 10 kilos was difficult enough. We had to find a way to take it. First, we sent it in a suitcase with a false bottom and the last one, we ended up sending it in a car. We bought a brand-new commercial van, and I drove it myself to California. I said, “But a hundred kilos? How do you do that?” Little did I know 100 kilos was only going to be for three loads. Presumably, it was going to be 700, 800 kilos. But you know what, where there’s a will, there’s away. Like I said before, I never said I can’t, I said how.
The first thing I did, I went out and I bought a brand-new little jet, and I said, “Well, that’s how I’m going to start transporting it.” We had not as much problem taking it there as even bringing the money back. Even though there was no security at the airport like now, I had a close call where literally at the airport in Tahoe, I had $800,000, and a police officer came up, and said, “Open up your suitcase.” By God’s grace, when I was about to open it up, when I had run out of excuses, the alarm at the airport went off, and the guy said, “Just close it, close it,” and he ran off. I remember like, “Wow, I almost lost that $800,000.” There went all of the profits that I had, and I was going to be deeply in debt for the rest of my life.
Here I find myself all of a sudden that I’m going to be handling all operations for this group. Before you know it, in a matter of a month, we were making trips of 50 kilos a week to California, twice a week, and then that went to 100 kilos twice a week, and before you know, I was taking roughly 100 kilos three times a week, between 800 and 1200 kilos a month. At the age of 21, I was the US head of that group that became known as the Medellín Drug Cartel. There was no Medellín Drug Cartel back then. I’ll talk about that in later episodes. I was handling all US operations making between $1-$3 million a month. You’d think I’d be happy then, right?
I remember my favorite car was a Corvette convertible. I just wanted a Corvette so badly. That was my dream car. My cousin had a GTO but then I evolved. I went from the GTO to a Chevrolet Corvette. I remember the day that the dealer called me up and said, “Hey Jorge, the Corvettes have come.” Man, I put on my suit, I put on cologne, you thought I was going to my graduation party. I went out there, took a suitcase full of money and when I get there, I was in shock. Imagine, they had more than one color.
Imagine my joy and my happiness is all dependent upon that car that I’m about to buy, and they made more than one color? What if I pick the wrong color? Would I be happy? I did what any accountant would do, anyone that reasons would do. I just went ahead and said, “Why take a chance on blowing your happiness on a color? Just buy all three of them.” I bought all three different colors that they had. Now, I was going to be happy. My [inaudible 00:16:33] just said, “What’s the hardest thing you’d do every day, Jorge?” I said, “Man, the hardest thing I do is get up in the morning and figure out what freaking car I’m going to drive.”
After a short time ... it’s just like things in life. When you buy something and you think that’s going to make you happy and it does, but then all of a sudden you figure out, “Why am I back feeling the same way again a couple of months later?” So, I said to myself, “You know what, I know why because I’m married to one woman.” Think about it, what Cuban man is going to be happy with just one woman? I ended up being unfaithful to my wife, and I ended up dating all the supermodels all the time, and some of the most gorgeous women in Miami.
I wondered one day, “Why do I hate all these women when the person I love the most in my life is my mother? The person I respect the most is my mother.” Here I am, I had no respect for any of these women. Now, when I was traveling from California to Colombia, I met this flight attendant. She was just gorgeous. I had tried to go out with her numerous times but she wouldn’t give me the time of day. One day, I’m sitting there in my hotel room in San Francisco and I’m getting ready to go back to Miami, and I get a phone call from my mum. She tells me two things; that my son was just born, I was divorced from my first wife. I was divorced when she was six months pregnant, and she said that she had a boy, and he was just born. I said, “Well, that’s wonderful. I’ll go to the hospital and see him in a couple of days.”
She said, “By the way, this girl, Lucelsi called you.” I called her, and we just made small talk, and then I said, “Hey, Lucelsi, why don’t you come with me to Vegas for a couple of days?” See, what would happen is, I had a contact in Vegas in the casino that I would take a million, $2 million for 2% at the beginning to 5% later on. I would deposit maybe $10,000 at the ticket window and then when I left, he would give me a receipt that I had made the $2 million. It was a good way for us to launder money. I had to go there and drop off a couple of million dollars, and I said, “Why don’t you come with me and we’ll spend a couple of days in Vegas?” She said, “What are you talking about?”
I said, “Look, give me a few minutes, I’ll call my pilot and I’ll let you know what time I’m going to be at the executive terminal of Los Angeles International.” She said, “You don’t have no airplane.” I said, “Well then, you know what, call my bluff. What do you have to waste? Come to the airport, if I’m not bluffing, we can have a glass of champagne, we can say hello, you go back home, and I go on to my way to Vegas.” She’s like, “I don’t want to call your bluff.” I get to the airport, and all of a sudden, there she was. I told my bodyguard, this big old guy who used to go round with me everywhere. I say, “Hey, go ahead to the terminal, pick her up, tell her to come to the airplane, and we’ll have some champagne here.” When she came to the airplane, she came with her cousin and her mother. I mean, these women were gorgeous.
We drank some champagne, I said, “Listen, have you decided, are you going to Vegas with me for a couple of days?” She was like, “I didn’t bring any clothes.” I said, “Clothes? Don’t worry about that. I’ll call ahead of time, and the person that handles my account, I’ll tell him to talk to [Cousin 00:19:09], which was the big, exclusive store there at Caesar’s Palace, and they’ll have racks with all your clothes, suitcases, everything.” She looked at her cousin, she said, “Well, can my cousin come?” I said, “Your cousin and your mother.” Well, her mother decides she wasn’t going to come but her cousin came, and we went to Vegas. Picked me up in this big, old limo, we got to the room, and I had the Frank Sinatra suite. It was enormous with a big old heart-shaped bed, and it had a big old Jacuzzi. It was about three bedrooms.
We go in there, and there were racks of clothes. I had bikinis, I had casual clothes, I had $25,000 worth of clothes. Their eyes were just blown away. She says, “Where is my cousin going to sleep?” I went to the bed, I measured the space for three bodies. I said, “Look, four of us fit here.” I say that story only because to say the following. I became so depraved that I got to a point in my life, and I will tell you later on when I met my wife, my prayer was, can I have sex with just one woman? Because you do things, and you cross that line. You cross the next line, and eventually, if you find any meaning for your life, if you are finding direction for your life, and you’re trying to see it in the things the world has to offer, one woman is not enough. We all have to have a mistress. One car is not enough. We’ve got to have multiple cars. One house, not enough.
The worst part about it is that we abandon our family, we abandon our children with the pretext that we are doing this to provide for them what we didn’t have. But truth be told, really what they want costs nothing. I tell that story about my son, Georgie. Our time, our love. It costs absolutely nothing but for whatever reason, we think that we can’t go there. We left Vegas and I went to Miami, and I lived my life like that. During the day, I’d go to the office from 8:00 to 6:00. I’d leave the office and then I would just go out all night long, different women. It’s a miracle I didn’t die of AIDS. I was empty and I was devoid.
Then come December of ‘78, one of the guys that were running the operations for me in Miami, his name was Sal. We grew up since we were little kids. I loved him to death. When I reconnected with him, he was selling grams at discotheques when we were already selling 700, 800 kilos a month. My dad used to go visit his dad, they saw each other three times a week, and he was always telling my dad, “Tell Jorge to give me a chance. Tell him to come over to our house.” I said, “Well, how much money do you have to get involved?” He’s like, “$10,000.” I’m like, “Hey, Sal, $10,000 doesn’t even buy 1 kilo.” I said, “Look, if the opportunity comes around, I’ll give you a chance. Don’t worry, I’ll get back to you.” He left the house.
One time, I ended up with 30 kilos because the person I was supposed to distribute them too had disappeared. He never answers his phone. I don’t know if he got arrested or what happened to him, and I was going to Europe because I had just bought a brand-new Mercedes Benz that I had ordered, convertible, and I was going to pick it up. I was going to take my ex-wife with me, and we were going to pick up the car and spend the month in Europe. I’m like, “What am I going to do with this?” So, this time I called him, and I said, “Look, I’ve got a deal for you. Do you want to get started? I’ve got 30 kilos. You sell them in 30 days when I come back, I have my money then we can talk about doing more.” In the beginning, he was shocked. He was like, “I don’t know, that’s too much.”
His partner, Willy, was really pretty adventurous and a fun guy. I love these guys to death. He said to me, “I’ll take them.” They ended up taking him, and when I came back, they had all my money. Then one thing led to another. They were handling all the cocaine that I was distributing in Miami. Little did I know that when I went to prison, I would hand operations to them, and they would go on to become the biggest drug dealers in the history of America. Sal says to me, “Hey Jorge, I’ll tell you what, I got this phone call from a friend of mine, and we got a connection. The government of Bolivia wants to work something out with you, and it looks like it’s a pretty good deal.” He said, “Look, they are willing to sell us 1 kilo for 10.” I was buying them now at 18 in Colombia.
“The good thing about it is that for every kilo they sell us, they’ll give us another one on credit.” I’m like, “You know what, that must be it. I’m only making a million to three million in the late ‘70s, ’77, ’78. Who couldn’t be happy with that? Think about it. That’s only equivalent to about $20 million a month today. Oh, I forgot, and tax-free. I get things going, and I remember when I told Manuel, I said, “Manuel, I got this deal with Bolivia.” When I mentioned Bolivia, he was like, “No, I refuse. We can’t do that.” He said, “Jorge, I had a nephew who went down there. He tried to make out a deal and he disappeared. I spent almost $50,000 to find out what happened to him and to get him back, and I got him back. I got him back two months later in a box cut up in pieces.”
He says, “Those people are animals. We are out of our element, you are making more money than you ever dreamed possible.” “But Manuel, this is a great deal, why can’t we expand? We are doing anywhere between 800 to 1000 kilos but we can do 3,000 or 4,000.” He’s like, “We don’t need that. You can’t spend the money that you got.” Behind his back, I went ahead and I started putting everything in motion. I knew that hey, my best theory in life, it’s so much easier to get forgiveness than permission. I’ll go ahead and do this, and I’m sure that one day he’s going to forgive me, but I know he’s not going to give me permission.
On April 4th, I had gone to one of my attorneys, Mel Castro, to introduce me to a pilot because I couldn’t use the organization's infrastructure because they were against it. So, I had to find a new pilot, I had to find where to land it, a completely new infrastructure. But I felt that hey, this way when I make my first trip, they are going to be happy, they are going to enjoy it, I am going to share the profit just like we have till now, and we’re each going to make between $7 and $10 million a month. We arranged everything. Manuel finally agreed.
I went to see my attorney, Mel Castro. He introduced me to this guy named Harrold Rosenthal, just a great guy. He had a route. He was just an old-time smuggler. Little did Mel tell me that the guy was a fugitive, and that would be the demise of the next 10, 15 years of my life. We arranged everything, met with Harrold. We agreed on $5,000 a kilo. He would go to Bolivia and I would set up a strip in Colombia where they could refuel, and then I would set up a strip in Nicaragua because I was dealing with [inaudible 00:24:37] at that time so that they can refill in Nicaragua in an island called Corn Island, and then we come to the States. Everything went in order. We went to Bolivia, I took $1.3 million as a down payment for the first hundred kilos, and then I went back home, waiting for the deal to happen.
The deal was going to happen after Easter of April something of 1978, I think it was April 5th. Harrold flew to Colombia and Manuel and I flew commercial to Colombia. We met up, we went in the morning to Villavicencio to look at the airstrip where we do refill, and then we went back to Bogota. They were leaving the next day to go to Bolivia to pick up the load, and I was leaving to go to Nicaragua. I had a deal that I was working out with [inaudible 00:25:16] people where we had some marijuana that the cartel had in Colombia that wanted to come through Nicaragua in refrigerated containers. That night, I get a phone call from Sal saying, “Listen, Jorge, they betrayed you. You need to come down here.”
Apparently, all they had was the cocaine that I had bought. They didn’t have the equal amount, 100 extra kilos they were supposed to give me on credit. I get on the airplane, I head out to Bolivia. I tell Manuel, “Don’t worry, Manuel, I’ll fix this, everything will be fine. I’ll see you in a couple of days.” I went down there, and I’ll never forget, sitting right there next to the head of Bolivian Airforce. I said, “Look, if you ever, ever screw me again, I will kill you. I’ll kill you, I’ll kill your family, I’ll kill your entire generation.” My partner that was there sitting next to me, Ramiro, just peed in his pants. Later he was like, “Are you out of your freaking mind? These people [inaudible 00:26:04] government like drinking coffee. Here you are, a 23-year-old, they already got your $1.3 million, it’s easy for them to get rid of you, and here you are threatening them in their country?”
But that’s how life is. See, I wasn’t a killer. When we cross lines in our life, things just escalate. I tell people, no junkie starts out by shooting an ounce of heroin. He would die. No alcoholic drinks a gallon of alcohol. He would die. We take one step and then we take the second step and then the third step, and before you know it, we are just on the slippery slope without any end. Mine got to a point where I just didn’t fear life, I didn’t fear death, couldn’t care if I lived or died. I had no respect for anybody, women or anyone. I was honest. Everyone in our organization was surprised. We lived by one fact. No one gets killed for telling the truth, but the truth of the matter was I was so empty inside. I remember people looking at me and saying, “Man, Jorge, it must be great to be you.” But deep down inside, when I looked at myself in the mirror in the morning, I hated what I saw.
I look back today, and I see the things that I did, I did them because inside, I wanted to die. See, I had reached the zenith of the American dream, what society tells us that we would be happy once we get it. The American dream, have a big mansion, 2-3 cars, a yacht, a jet, one woman, 10 women preferably, all the money. Once you do that, that’s the American dream. That’s the biggest bullshit that there is. The original American dream was what? Buy and live in one house, educate my children to be decent, people of integrity, work hard, retire, collect social security, and live a decent life. Not today’s American dream that we’ve allowed society to sell to us and in turn, we sell to our children.
The long story is, I get on the airplane, we fly to Colombia, we get there, and Manuel has a heart attack when he sees me inside the airplane. When he knows that I’m going to continue on the airplane because the truth of the matter was, I was running out of time. I needed to be in the Dominican Republic to pick up my ex-wife, and the only way to do it was just to get onto that airplane. I looked at him, I said, “Manuel, nothing can happen to me. I’m fine. I’ll be alright.” He just said to me, “Son, go with God.” Well, half an hour later, we crashed over the jungles of Panama. We lost both alternators. We couldn’t get the fuel to the tanks, and we crashed over a banana plantation in Panama.
Anthony, I guess this is a good spot for us to end episode number 2. I really want to apologize to our listeners for not stopping to get your challenging questions as we mentioned at the beginning of the podcast that we were going to do. I figured that it would be best right now for these first few episodes to simply let the listener hear my story, hear the entire story, then we’ll go forth, and we’ll get back to our regular format where you’re going to challenge me about my perspective on different topics that we will cover.
In our next episode 3, I will share what happened to that kid who was the American dream. How that kid, in six short months, became America’s nightmare. What happens when money becomes your God? Thank you so much for tuning in to our podcast. If you found the episode to be of interest to you, please share it with your friends. Listen, if a group of us together, young kids, were able to create this enormous criminal empire for evil, I believe that all of us together, we can do something great to make this world a better place. Together, we can make a difference. Remember, I will be giving away 3,000 copies of my newly published book, Narco Mindset: Freedom Edition, to the first 3,000 subscribers. God bless you and see you next week in the Narco Mindset podcast.
Outro: We’ve come to the conclusion of this episode of the Narco Mindset podcast but your path towards hope, meaning and redemption continues. For more information and resources to help you on your path towards finding a life built on integrity, honor and truth, head to jorgevaldesphd.com, and join our community. We appreciate you joining us for this episode, and look forward to helping you find your turning point right here on the Narco Mindset podcast.
Before we watched TV shows and movies on Narcos, and even before Pablo Escobar’s rise to fame, there was one man who was the ultimate Narco. He lived the Narco life of greed, money and power but found a way to reclaim his life, and use his astonishing experiences to empower others to live a life of hope, meaning and redemption. Welcome to the Narco Mindset podcast where Dr. Jorge Valdes shares his journey through life before and after the Medellín Drug Cartel. From torture and multiple prison sentences to how he refocused his life onto a path of principles learned as a Narco. It’s time to share that raw truth with you, right here on the Narco Mindset podcast with your host, Dr. Jorge Valdes.