Episode #30 - Narco Mindset Podcast - Interview on the Eric Metaxas Radio Show
Narco Mindset Podcast
Interview on the Eric Metaxas Radio Show
August 26, 2020
Host: Jorge Valdes Ph.D. - An Author, Speaker, Blogger, Mindset Coach, Podcaster, and YouTuber
Interview on the Eric Metaxas Radio Show. Jorge Valdes relates an over-the-top personal story of his life as a cocaine drug lord and how he eventually left this brutal world of crime; Jorge also shares stories of his family's experience with Socialism in Cuba.
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.
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TRANSCRIPTION OF EPISODE #30
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 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.
Jorge: Welcome to the Narco Mindset podcast. My name is Dr. Jorge Valdes. Today, I want to share with you an interview that I did on the Eric Metaxas show. I think it was quite fascinating where I expressed some of my views about what is going on in the world today, and I hope that you enjoy this interview.
Todd: Welcome to the Eric Metaxas show. I’m the announcer, and I’ve known Eric since he was a big nobody. In fact, I’m one of the people he stepped as he climbed the ladder of success. And now, my former friend, Eric Metaxas.
Eric: Hey folks, welcome to the program. This is the Eric Metaxas show. I just happened to be Eric Metaxas. I consider that an amazing coincidence. Ignore what Todd Wilkerson just said always because he’s the best we could get on short notice in terms of announcers. He’s a friend. I thought I’d help him out. Usually, my guests make up for our lack in other ways. Today, I’ve got a home dinger, folks. I’m speaking to the author of a book. The book is called Narco Mindset, and the subtitle is The Life Principles that a Cocaine Drug Lord Learned on His Journey to Find Meaning in His Life. The former cocaine drug lord is my guest. Jorge Valdes, welcome.
Jorge: Thank you, Eric. It’s really a pleasure to be on the show with you.
Eric: It’s my pleasure to have you. You have an amazing story, and one of the things I want to do on this program is I want to get stories like yours out because people do not know how dramatically lives can be changed by the God who loves us. I say this particularly for people maybe who don’t believe in God or don’t know. Listen to this story, folks. Listen to these stories because it gives you a different perspective. So, Jorge, the bottom line, I guess, is that at age 21, which is some years ago, you were a drug lord and a millionaire playboy.
Obviously, you are not that now, your life has changed dramatically. What I like to do is go to the beginning of how you got into that lifestyle. You were working with the Medellin Cartel, am I right?
Jorge: Yeah. I was part of the group that was the original group that eventually became the Medellin Cartel. You know, Eric-
Eric: [Crosstalk 00:03:45] on the ground level, where the money is. Yeah.
Jorge: It’s amazing because when I wrote that book. Mindset, I did not realize what was going to be happening six, seven, eight months as it is today. I look at all these things that’s going on, and it’s all about mindset, right? I tell people, “It’s not how you look at the world, it’s through what lens do you see the world?” I came from Cuba, very religious mom didn’t want her son to grow up in a communist country. At the age of 10. We were very wealthy. My parents were among the 10 wealthiest people in Cuba. Came to Miami. My mother gets left behind. All of a sudden, I’m 10, and eleven of us are sleeping in a one-bedroom, 750 square feet apartment in little Havana.
My first decision that I make is God isn’t real. My mom is crazy. We were in school listening to Fidel, right? See, people talk about close-
Eric: Let me get this straight again. You were born where?
Jorge: I was born in Havana, Cuba.
Eric: So, you were born there, so you experienced what it is to go from being wealthy to communism. With your own eyes, you saw this?
Jorge: Exactly. That’s why I tell people, now, if you think socialism is good, just go try Cuba for a little while, and then you can see. Just imagine, my father here’s a 40-year-old man, extremely wealthy, multi-millionaire in the ‘60s, in the ‘50s in Cuba. My mother, her father was like the second in command to George Washington in Cuba. Here you have my mother and my father, extremely wealthy people. All of a sudden, my mother decides, “I’m leaving. I don’t care if we leave everything behind. I don’t care if we’re going to go to the United States,” and a lady that was born with a silver spoon in her mouth ends up working picking tomatoes in the field, all because she refused her children to grow up in a communist country.
See, we were in school, and we would come home ... I’m just a little kid ... so I’m coming home and said, “Hey, we learned this at school.” Then my mother would say, “That’s BS. That’s not the way it is. God is real, God is the center of our home, and communists are full of crap.” Now, Fidel was a genius. What did he do? When you were 12, he would take you away from your family. Let’s say you lived in New Jersey. He would send you to live with a family in California. Then he would take the kid from California to live with a family in Chicago. Why? Because when I came home from school, and I told my mom what they taught me about communism, my mother could correct me. But if I went to someone else’s house, and they tried to correct me, and I went back and told the teacher, “Hey, the people I’m living with say communism is full of crap.” They get automatic 10 years in jail.
That’s how Fidel brainwashed people. Well, my mother said, “I’ll leave with the clothes on my back to a country where ...” She spoke perfect English. My father did not. I don’t care because my children will not grow up in this communist ideology. My children will grow up in a country where they have the freedom to be what God created them to be and to worship God freely. She was willing to sacrifice and sacrificed it all to the point that at the airport ... My father originally did not want to leave because my father did not think communism was going to affect him the way it did but my mother, from day one, would have nothing with it.
She filed the papers because you had to file to leave but because we were very wealthy, we didn’t leave until 1966 even though we filed in ’62. My father said, “No, I don’t want to go.” Eventually, he decided but at the airport, they leave my mother behind. They said they made a mistake, and she couldn’t leave. I think it was a political reason. My mother grabbed my hand, I’m 10, my brother’s 9, my sister’s 5, and says, “Jorge, take your brother and sister to Miami. I will see you one day.”
Now, think about this, Eric, I didn’t think I would see my mother again. I’m 10 years old. I have no idea. My world drastically changes. My mother loved her children so much she was willing to let them go by themselves to a foreign country like many Cuban parents did with the operation Peter Pan, and ended up becoming very successful in America because she would have nothing to do with it. I laugh when I hear all of this liberal politicians talk about socialism and communism. When I was young in college, we all wanted to be a socialist. Karl Marx’s beautiful writing. The reality is, it’s a failed system, it takes away the creativity, and at the end, all it does is control people.
Eric: Listen, I’ve got to say, Jorge, you and I have at least somewhat similar backgrounds. My mother grew up in East Germany and my father grew up in Greece. They have this civil war with the communists. They taught me to despise communism, to understand this is evil. It’s not just that it doesn’t work. It is evil. It crushes people. It brainwashes people. To see this happening in America today on any level is a staggering thing to me. I speak about it any opportunity I can. I didn’t think we would go there but I’m glad as you prepare to tell us how you became a major drug lord, you tell us that you did have this experience but your mother had the wisdom to say ... how painful it must be for a mother but to say to her kids, “Get out if you have the opportunity, and I will stay behind.” So, I have to ask you, did you see your mother again?
Jorge: Yeah. Eventually, by God’s grace, she came nine months later, and she had cancer but God healed her. The interesting thing was, yeah, the pain for her must have been enormous. Three little kids, sending them on an airplane by themselves. It was less painful than the thought of them growing up in a communist regime. We came to Miami, and I was mad at God. The first thing like everything that goes on, right? There’s no God because things go bad and God doesn’t exist. How can God let bad things happen to good people?
We came but my father had tremendous morals to the point my father, Eric, was ... We were very poor. Basically, all we had was two eggs in the morning with this powdered Vietnam milk. Till today, I can’t even drink milk because it didn’t mix. That’s what we would have until dinner time. I remember a week after I’m in school, and I tell my dad, “Hey, dad, a friend of mine has lunch, and he just came six months before us.” My dad was ... you know the old generation, they didn’t speak very much. He just nods his head. I said, “He tells me that he gets food stamps, dad.” My dad just nods his head, and I said, “Do you know about that, dad?” He says, “Yes.” I said, “Why don’t we get food stamps, dad?” He says, “Because, son, that’s for poor people.” I’m like, “Man, I’m so poor I haven’t gotten to poor yet. I’ve got to work my way out of poverty.”
He looked at me that day, Eric. This was literally 54 years ago. Put his finger on my chest, and says, “Son, you get up early in the morning and help figure how to feed your family because people that take money from the government are poor, so they will remain poor forever.” Boy, it was just horrific.
Eric: I’ve got to say, what a lesson. We’re going to go to a break but there’s so much here, Jorge, I just want to say thank you for sharing all this stuff. We’re going to be right back. The book, folks, is called Narco Mindset. My guest is Jorge Valdes. We’ll be right back.
Folks, I’m talking to Jorge Luis Valdes, who is the author of a book called Narco Mindset. He was a millionaire drug lord. Started at the bottom with the Medellin cartel. Unbelievable story, and he’s telling it to us right now. Jorge, so right now you’re telling us about, okay, you grew up very wealthy in Havana. The Fidel Castro communist revolution comes. You go into dirt poverty. Your parents drag you to America, which itself a miracle, to escape. You go back into poverty in Miami, and, of course, you’re angry, you say God doesn’t exist because look how we’re suffering. What happens at this point in your life?
Jorge: Well, very important, my dad had tremendous morals. My dad taught us integrity. My dad taught us that a man, all he has in life is his word, so I worked very, very hard. I was laser-focused. I had this vision that I would graduate from college at 20. I would go to Law School by 23. I would become a millionaire by 30. At the age of 17, I became the youngest employee in the Federal Reserve Bank in Miami. They paid for me to go to the University of Miami.
I worked fulltime, I went to school fulltime. By the age of 21, I graduated, an accounting professor asked me, “Hey, George, do you want to come and work for us?” He did not know how to speak Spanish. He was a partner at Price & Waterhouse in Michigan. He said, “I’ll give you a secretary, office,” everything that I ever dreamed of one day being in business for myself. I said, “Sure.” Anyway, I go to work for him, and he gives me this little client, and it’s this little grocery store. Literally 20 feet wide by maybe 40 feet long, one of those little grocery stores in Miami.
The first day I get there, Eric, I see this bag with $100,000. Now, this is 1976, I’m 20 years old. I said $100,000. Now, I was such a nerd, I was so innocent. Number one, I never drank alcohol in my life, never done drugs in my life. All I ever did was study and work. I graduated top of my class, so I wrote it off like nothing. I didn’t imagine anything. Next week, I come $75,000. Now, I start wondering like what’s going on? There’s no way this grocery store can produce all this money. The third week I come, and there’s another hundred and twenty somewhat thousand.
I called them in. I said, “Let me show a little accounting formula. You buy something for a dollar, you sell it for three dollars, you’ve got a two dollar profit. That means so far, I’ve deposited $300,000. That means that you must have spent $100,000 in merchandise, except you only bought about $800. Something doesn’t match.”
They laughed. He says, “We’re not in the grocery business, Jorge, we’re drug dealers.” Now, imagine how I felt at that moment when all of a sudden, I’m working for drug dealers, a guy that would go to a party, smell marijuana and leave. I tell my girlfriend, “I work for the Federal Reserve Bank. I cannot mess with my future.” I didn’t even have a traffic ticket. Immediately, I said to myself, “Well, I’m an accountant. As long as I don’t break the law ...” there were no money laundering laws at that time. The first money laundering laws are created to come after us.
I crossed a line that I never said I would cross. That’s what we do in life. We cross lines a little bit and then before we know it, we’re just too far out. They said, “Look, we know that you know how to open foreign bank accounts.” I say, “Yeah, I work for the federal government.” He said, “All we need is, can you open bank accounts for us?” I said, “Sure.” “How much?” I had no idea. I knew, because we had done an audit of this guy that had a scam going on, and we know that you could open a foreign account in [inaudible 00:15:04] for 750 bucks. I said $10,000.
Now, $10,000 is a fortune. I had a huge salary, and I was making I think four bucks an hour. They’re like, “Okay, open three for us.” There, my life just changed. I opened up three for them.
Eric: You took dirty money. You made a decision even though it sounds like you were raised, as you said, very morally, and you were very upstanding in every way but suddenly, you saw easy money, and you looked the other way about what’s happening with the money.
Jorge: Exactly. The thing about it is ... now, we go back to ’76 when cocaine was not even on the radar. Immediately, they start telling me like everything we do. This is only for the rich and famous. This doesn’t go to poor people. Well, one thing led to the other, Eric, and I detail in the book. Within six months, I became the US head of all operations for that group that went on to become the Medellin Drug Cartel. Within a year, I was making a million dollars a month by the age of 21. I had mansions. I had a million dollars’ worth of cars. I dated the most beautiful women in America. I had unbelievable power but I was miserable. There was something inside of me. Everybody wanted to be Jorge Valdes, I wanted to be anybody but me.
I looked back after I wrote my first book originally 20 years ago, Coming Clean. After I wrote that and then Narco Mindset. Come to think of it, I had a death wish. I was so miserable because, in life, society tells us that once you have X, you’re going to be happy. We all come with a void inside of us. We know that only Christ can fill that void. Society will tell you, “Women will do it. Cars. Mansions.” We abandon family, we abandon our children, we abandon our morals in search of that. 90% of us never reach it. I reached it. You get there, and you realize that it’s not here. So, if it’s not here, what do we do now?
Eric: Before we go to this, I want to pause for a second. You’re talking about being in the middle of a world that most of us have only seen in movies. In many ways, it’s glamorous, in many ways, it’s very frightening. Obviously, there’s tremendous violence. Did you see that violence? Did you fear for your life because if you’re at the top of the heap, somebody wants what you have? Did you see that? How did you deal with that?
Jorge: I’ll get to that part. When we first started, there was no violence. When we were first starting, there were gentlemen, and that’s how you get tangled in because there was no violence. Like I said, our client was Hollywood. Our clients were the rich and famous. I walked around Miami like anything. We were not even on the DA radar. But then I crashed. A million dollars a month was not enough. I worked out a deal with the government of Bolivia where we were going to be making $7 million three times a month in 1978. I got on an airplane, and I’m giving you the cliff notes of it.
I get on an airplane in Bolivia. I work out a deal with them, but I get on an airplane and we crashed on the way to the United States. My godfather who founded the cartel, Manny Garces, didn’t want me to go to Bolivia. He said, “Look, those people are animals. Those people will cut you into pieces.” But, you know, you get to a point in life where you think that you’re God. I see that with celebrities. I see that with a lot of wealthy politicians. Power. Power is the most heinous of all drugs. I thought, Eric, nothing could happen to me.
When my godfather said to me, “How dare you get on an airplane? Don’t you realize all our operations are in your hands?” I’m like, “Don’t worry about it, nothing can happen to me.” Well, we crashed over the jungle in Panama, and I was arrested. When I got there, the Attorney General came, and I said to the Attorney General, “Look, I don’t want to waste your time and my time. How much to buy the cocaine, and how much to get out?” He looked at me and said, “Noriega sold the cocaine, $250,000 for you to get out.” I said, “No problem.”
We had contingency plans. I had a number that people would know that if someone called that number with a certain code, they knew how to respond. We had two million dollars readily cash to mobilize and airplanes within five minutes anywhere in the world.
Eric: Noriega, at that time, he got involved in the drugs with you. Did you happen to crash in the right place?
Jorge: Noriega was more crooked than anyone you ever imagined. Noriega worked for the CIA and worked for the cartel. The Attorney General gets the money, he says, “Look, I have arranged it. We’re going to take you to the city of Panama. They’re going to rough you up a little bit and make you look like we really care, and then you’re leaving for the United States.” I said, “No, I want to go to Costa Rica.” I had just spent a million dollars getting the president of Costa Rica elected the year before. I said, “Okay, there’s no problem.” Well, we get taken to the city of Panama, and I tell the two pilots, “Listen, they’re going to rough us up a little bit, don’t worry about it, and we’ll be home tonight.”
Well, they bring us into this room, it looked like a conference room. Empty, just four chairs against the wall, and they bring this kid, probably about 5’5’’, 5’4”, maybe 100 pounds, naked, handcuffed to his feet and hands. When the pilots saw that, they cracked. They said, “Look, not only are we really drug dealers, Jorge Valdes just bribed the Attorney General.” Well, they took us in a dungeon, and for the next 28 days, I was tortured. I tell people, “You think that prison, tortures, all of that change you? No.” I was brought to the United States, and in the United States, I was charged with heading the largest drug conspiracy in the history of America in 1979, and I had just turned 23 years old.
I was given the highest bond ever in America. What started as seven million ended two million, in 1979. A guy that didn’t have a traffic ticket. A young kid. I had the best attorneys in the world. I had Allan [inaudible 00:21:02], Marty Weinberg. I just didn’t care. I was angry at the world. I was angry at everything. There was no meaning. I couldn’t believe why I treated women badly when I adore my mother. I went to prison, and prison for me was like camp. I had most of the people that live there work for me, [inaudible 00:21:24] that worked for me. I had a blast.
Eric: That’s when you were in America you’re talking about?
Jorge: Yeah. That’s when [crosstalk 00:21:28].
Eric: We’re going to go on a break. Hang on a second, Jorge. Folks, I’m talking to Jorge Valdes, the book is Narco Mindset. Don’t go away.
Folks, I hope you’re not just tuning in because the first part of this story is unbelievable. Jorge Valdes is my guest, the book is Narco Mindset. Jorge, so you talk about your crash land in Panama. Now, it sounds like they double-cross you, and they put you in prison, they torture you. Eventually, you make your way to the United States where you go to prison, and that prison, of course, is nothing compared to what you’ve been through. It sounds like I think you just said like you’re running the prison at this point.
Jorge: I was running the prison. I was 23 years old. I was still making millions of dollars a month. Now, think about it, a million dollars a month in 1976. It’s a lot of money today, it was a lot of money back then. I get out of prison, Eric, and my mindset was I’m going to get even. They kidnapped me from Panama. I didn’t commit no crime in the United States, why am I going to jail?
The world started to change, and something drastically happened. My mother finds out that I was a drug dealer. She didn’t know before. She thought I was a businessman because I had many businesses. She starts telling me, “Son, what you’re doing doesn’t please God.” My mother is a perfect example of what I consider tough love. My mother never waved letting me know that I was doing wrong, that God was not pleased with what I was doing. Then she would say, “What do you want for dinner today?” She would let me know ... number one, she never took a dollar from me, refused.
I had, I want to call them sleazy girls living in million-dollar mansions, and my mom and dad lived in the same $40,000 house they bought from Cuba. They drove the same car that they bought with their own money. They refused to take anything from me but they also refused to abandon me as their son. That is critical because my mother taught me through the north. So, even though I went south, east, west, I knew where to come back to. I come out of prison, and I go back the same power but then the world starts to change. Then I start seeing the killings, and I start seeing crack coming and hurting kids.
One day, I said, “I’ve had enough,” and I walked away. When I walked away, my pain was so much that I thought I had literally less than a month to live. You see, we really didn’t have a very good retirement program in the cartel. The thing they couldn’t deal with was the unknown. Why is Jorge walking away? He’s making a million dollars. He doesn’t even see drugs anymore. The guy is so removed from everything but I just couldn’t take it. I knew that it was wrong.
Eric: That’s an amazing thing, Jorge. You don’t normally hear stories like that, that somebody is making millions of dollars in a criminal organization, and that you decide to walk away. That’s a big deal. Were you thinking about God at that time or was it just that you were unhappy. What was in your mind that you would walk away? It’s a shocking concept.
Jorge: Right. It was because literally, Eric, all I did was say, “Send a plane.” They’ll send the airplane, and pay the big-name people that we had on our payroll. I was dying inside. I was dying and I knew deep down inside that what I was doing was wrong. It was not right, and it was not what my mother raised me to be. I had this future. I crossed a line, and before you know it, I was gone. I just knew that it was not the right thing to do, and I didn’t care if they killed me. I had to get that whole life behind me. People say, “How do you change a life?” I said, “Well, I didn’t know how to change. All I knew was that if I’m going north, I’m going to go south. East or west.”
I move from Miami, and I went to live in my ranch, and I hired a guy to teach me karate. The first day he comes, he says, “I’m going to teach you about the sword.” I’m all excited because I love weapons. I’m like, “Oh, man, you know what, this guy is not going to work. [Inaudible 00:25:40] throwing punches.” He turns around, he has a bible. I looked at him, and I was so angry and irate. I’m like, “Dude, I’m paying you a lot of money to teach me karate. I don’t believe in that book. I don’t believe what that book talks about. Tomorrow, you leave that sword at home and bring the real sword.”
He got up within, I don’t know, five inches of my face. I looked around, I touched behind me, I had no gun. I’m like, “Man, this guy is seven degree Black Belt, he’s going to beat Jesus into me, and I’m going to pay for it.” I’m like, “Hey, dude, don’t get excited. For the next two hours after we finish and the steam room is heating up, waste your time.” He preached to me for three years. That’s something that people need to listen to because we live in a society that we like fast food, fast cars, fast women. We don’t invest in people’s lives.
This man, I did everything in the world to chase him away, literally, because he was eating me up. People say, “What did he say that changed your mind?” I said, “Actually, I don’t remember much of what he said.” Later on, he took another route. What changed me was his walk. He lived in such a little, bitty world, and I looked at him, and I’m like, “You mean you’re married for 25 years to a 45-year-old woman, you’re in love with her. Look at me, I’m surrounded by supermodels and I hate them. You’ve got to be on drugs, man. There’s no way in the world that you could be happy.”
I kept looking at him for over three years, Eric, and he did not waver. I tell people, “Listen, we are the only bible someone might ever see.” If I was to say one of the reasons why I was so adamant against Christianity, prison helped me be that. In prison, I began to see people that called themselves Christians, didn’t live any differently than me. They were petrified of me. I’m like, “Look, why would I want to go to heaven? You’re scared for me to send you there. I’m going to go to hell. I’m not scared to go there. Anyway, that’s where all my friends live, so why do I want to go someplace I don’t know anybody?”
This guy did not waver. When my friend’s book came out, it was published by Waterbrook Random House, and they did a big thing in Miami. His wife came out to me and said, “Let me tell you something that I’ve never told anyone. It was three years, Tim coming to see you, and one day he says ... He couldn’t sleep. He’d get up at four O’clock, at five o'clock, he’d be on the road, and an hour and a half to drive to see you and teach you two hours karate. He said I’m not going back anymore.
I didn’t know what to say, so all I would say is Tim, listen to the Holy Spirit. He’s like yeah, I’m listening, he’s telling me to get out. He said [inaudible 00:28:04] that guy is the devil. I’ve been preaching to him for three years. From going to bad, he goes to worse. Tim, listen to the Holy Spirit, [inaudible 00:28:12]. That guy is the anti-Christ. If the anti-Christ is coming, it’s that Cuban in that ranch.
Eric: We’re going to go to a break. This is the seven-minute segment, so we’re going to be right back, folks. I’m talking to Jorge Valdes, the book is Narco Mindset.
Hey there, folks. I’m talking to Jorge Valdes, the book is Narco Mindset. So, Jorge, we’ve come to the story where you now say that you scared away the guy who is supposed to teach you karate or whatever. He’s preaching to you for three years, and eventually, God tells him, “Get away from that guy.” That’s kind of amazing that he’s with you for three years, and then he decides, “No, I don’t want to be near you anymore, you’re frightening me.”
Jorge: Yeah. So, he’s telling that to his wife, and he’s so pumped up to come and tell me, “See you but I don’t want to see you anymore.” He says that when his car entered into my ranch, and the guards open up the doors, and they check the car, he said that the car stopped dead. He said it was the first time ever in his life that he actually heard the voice of God. He said he heard God say to him, “Why have you given up on Jorge? I haven’t.” Eric, three months later, I give my life to Christ. How did I give my life to Christ? It was my final divorce. I remember it so clearly today. July 1st, 1990, about twelve O’clock, and my divorce was final. My ex-wife is dragging my baby girl, who was my life, away. I was just at the point where I just wanted to die.
I went into my room, and I remember that prayer just like today. I got on my knees, and I said, “Lord, I don’t believe you’re real. I just want to be honest with you. I don’t believe in you, number one. Number two, if somehow, by some miracle, you are real, you’re looking at me and saying, Jorge, you’re so bad, I don’t want you up here. Stay down there. But if you are real, and you’re willing to change me and give me what that man has because all the money in the world I have can’t buy it, I’ll die for you. The bible says there’s angels in heaven, well, not for Cubans I guess because my life went from bad to worse.
Three months later, I get arrested. I get arrested for things that I had done four years earlier. I didn’t even realize that there was a taskforce. The government couldn’t stand it that I had retired a multi-millionaire. I got arrested in Jeff Sessions’ Alabama, on his district. When I get arrested, I had no idea. My attorney comes and says, “Don’t worry, you’re going to walk. They have nothing against you. The only witness died last night. He was smuggling in an airplane while he was still government witness.” I went in, and I looked at him, and this Jewish guy, and I [inaudible 00:30:57] him over, and I said, “Allan, you know, I love you man, and here you are, a good Jew telling me I’m going home but there’s this other Jew I’ve given my life to, and he didn’t say nothing to me. I can’t go on lying. I can’t go on fighting these people. I’ve got to come clean.”
He’s like, “Are you crazy? You will die in prison.” I said, “Look, if that Jewish carpenter does not change my heart and my life, I don’t give a damn where I die. I’m dead already, I’m just walking.” He said, “You want to come clean, we come clean.” We went in there, and the government said, “Lots of money, little time. Little money, lots of time.” I said, “You know how much I’ve got?” The prosecutor said, “No but I know who does.” She opened the door, and four agents had been following us around but I talked to one of them yesterday because they’re my friends now.
I told him, “I see all this hatred against police.” I said look, I looked at the world really simple. Their job was not to catch me. I said, “David, your job was not to catch me, mine was to getaway. Your job was to catch me.” I said, “You caught me, and I thank God every day that you caught me because you caught me, you changed my life. You’re not my enemy.” We’ve actually been very close friends. This man spent 10 years of his life to lock me up forever. Today, I consider him one of my closest friends, and one of the persons that had the greatest impact on my life.
The other two agents that are part of his team, also very, very close friends. So, I went in there, and my attorney said, “Look, just give him the time that he owes you on parole because you didn’t catch him with anything. He’s actually declaring himself guilty. He’s voluntarily forfeiting all his money, over $40 million, and he walked away from this on his own.” Anyway, they gave me 10 years. I went back, I did a total of 10 years in prison but in prison, I started studying because it’s about mindset. I said I can let the time do me or I’m going to do the time.
Eric: So, wait, you did go to prison and all through the ‘90s, you were in prison?
Jorge: Yeah. I went to prison, ’90. The first time I went to prison in 1979 for five years. ’90, I went to prison for five years. In prison, I taught myself Greek, I didn’t have anybody to teach me Greek, so I memorized the book. I got a Bachelor’s and then I started my Master’s from Wheaton College. When I was released, I finished my Master’s at Wheaton College, and I became a professor at Wheaton College. Met my amazing wife of 23 years now, then I went to Loyola for a Ph.D. in the bible. I graduated, I was one of five Hispanics with a Ph.D. in the entire country.
Then my dad died, and when my dad died, I realized, man, how are my three children from my [inaudible 00:33:26] marriage going to remember me? As someone who sent the check and had a great summer? I’m missing my dad. He didn’t give me anything. I tell people, “Listen, your children don’t need anything you got. All they need is what you’ve got that’s free, your time. That’s all they need.” I packed and moved to Georgia. I didn’t know what to do. I started a little ServiceMaster franchise. I knew the CEO of ServiceMaster. A little cleaning franchise. In 12 years, I built it into a multi-million dollar national and international company.
Eric: I know the head of ServiceMaster is a Christian. I’ve heard him speak.
Jorge: Yeah. They’re amazing people. They changed my life, all of them. Then I looked at myself one day, and I told my wife, “Look, if a man can’t define when enough is enough, only greed will drive you. I want to be a dad to my kids.” So, I sold the company, and we moved to Cozumel, Mexico so that they would see poverty. Now, my wife and I both grew up in poverty but my children now are going to the best school. We live in a multi-million dollar house. We have jets. We have yachts, and that’s not a reality for them. I’m telling them that, “Listen, that’s not the real world.” I wanted them to have a social conscience. I’m going to move you to a place where you’re going to see people love God that at the same time miss meals every day.
It was the greatest thing in the world, and then I just ran our foundation. When we started our company, I said, “The way to make our company great, we’re going to give 10% off the top.” People think wow, horrific, too much money but you know what, Eric, that 10% got multiplied so many times over, and we were able to help a lot of people. We created programs to get kids off of drugs at the prison, Angola. I’m sure you’re familiar with it. I built the only Catholic chapel inside any United States prison at Angola. I’ve been visiting there for 20 years. I led the mean that killed Barry Seal to the Lord at Angola. 18 years of prison to them. A very close friend with the warden. Now, I just dedicate my time to try a make a difference to people’s lives.
I see the horrors that are in the world, that’s going on in ... People ask me, “How come you’re not scared?” I said, “Well, first of all, what is there to be scared of? Number one, if I live, I’m going to live with Christ. If I die, I’m going to be with Christ. So, I can’t lose to begin with.” If a virus takes me, which I think is a bunch of hoaxes, but if a virus takes me, I’m going to sit down with Jesus over that good wine, and say, “Dude, you had to do a little better than that, man. I’ve been shot at 28 times, not a scratch. I fell off an airplane three thousand feet, alive. Torture, alive. You cannot take me with a little sickness, man.” I try to write about mindset, about how do we look at the world. [Crosstalk 00:36:04] me.
Eric: When we come back, I want to hear about what the title of your book means, Narco Mindset: The Life Principles that a Cocaine Drug Lord Learned on His Journey to Find Meaning in His Life. We’ll be right back.
Folks, I am back with Jorge Luis Valdes. The book is Narco Mindset. Jorge, what do you mean by mindset? What do you mean?
Jorge: I tell people, it doesn’t matter how you see the world, what lens that you look at it through. I choose to look at the world through the lens of Christ, so one of those ... calls me crazy but I happen to believe that if there’s a lie in the bible, I don’t read any of it. If I don’t follow Christ with all my heart, I might as well sin. Sin was fun but it had eternal consequences. I look at the division and the hatred that we have, and how the liberal media is going ahead and dividing families, and it’s horrific. Look, I tell people I’m not politically correct by no means. I don’t give a damn. If you like me, like me. I’m not afraid of anybody. I’m not afraid of any movement. I’m not afraid of the shotgun because I believe that my days are counted. I believe that the day God wants to call me, I’m happy. I’m 64. I never thought I’d live past 20. So, I’m okay but I can’t believe that we’re going to live in a world where our children are afraid to say what they believe.
Listen, we were poor. Listen, I came off that airplane in Miami at the age of 10, and had this lady right in my face, “Cubans, go back. America is not Cuba.” I looked at my father, and I’m like, “Why is she so mad at me? I haven’t done anything.” My dad never said anything negative. My dad just said, “Son, work hard. You can’t force people to like you. Whoever doesn’t like us is not going to like us no matter what we do but you can make people respect you.” The best way that you fight back is your fight with love. You don’t fight by being angry.
I looked at the Medellin cartel. Eric, we were the most powerful organization in the world. We were thousands of people. Within a minute, I could call and have 1000 hitmen anywhere in America, and yet what happened? Violence among us, greed, selfishness destroyed us. We became nothing. At the end of the day, how are we going to change the world through love? We cannot allow this to go on. I tell my children, “Listen, I know that you’re going to grow up in a country now that you’re going to be afraid you’re going to lose your job because of what you say but you do what is right before God, you become a person of integrity and honor, and don’t give a damn if you lose your job because trust me, God will pick you up. God will redeem you, and he will protect you but don’t live in fear, and don’t let this bunch of idiots intimidate you.”
Eric: This is the kind of faith that we need in America. A lot of people in the church have gone over to the dark side politically. They have no idea of the evils of Marxism, of the evils of socialism. They don’t know that Black Lives Matter is an organization that is anti-family and everything most Black Americans I know actually believe in. You know what, what you say when you have this kind of faith, Jorge, honestly, you don’t fear. You praise God, and you know that he will deliver you. He can deliver to you. He is with you. What you’ve been through, your story is one of the most amazing I’ve ever heard.
The idea that you fell out of an airplane, and we didn’t get the details on that but that you were tortured, that you went through all these things, and you know that God is real. I think many people today, they say, “I’m a Christian, I believe in the principles.” Or I say I believe the bible but they don’t know that God is real, and that he will act on their behalf, that he loves them. Maybe they haven’t seen it. You saw it, which is why I wanted you to tell your story. What is your previous book where you tell much of what you just said today? What’s the name of that book?
Jorge: My previous book is called Coming Clean: The True Story of a Cocaine Drug Lord and His Unexpected Encounter with God. What you said is so real. The sad thing I tell my children, “America is a Christian nation. We are the majority. We’re just allowing a little minority to tell us what is moral. To tell us what our family is. To tell us what is right.” Listen, I don’t hate anybody because that isn’t what God tells me to do but at the end of the day, we’ve just got to stand for what we believe in, and not be afraid.
Eric: Amen. We are out of time. What a beautiful way to end. Be not afraid. Folks, speak your mind. Say what God tells you to say, and he will take care of you. Jorge, I feel a new friend. Thank you. Congratulations on the book, Narco Mindset. I hope to see you again very soon.
Jorge: I hope to see you again, Eric.
I hope you have enjoyed this interview with Eric Metaxas on his show. If you like the interview, and if you like the podcast, please subscribe on our webpage at www.jorgevaldesphd.com. If you go to our community and sign in, you will receive a free copy of my latest book, Narco Mindset: Freedom Edition. Again, share the podcast if you enjoyed it, and thank you so much for your support. Have a wonderful day. I look forward to seeing you again.
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.