Why did you get into this business?
The city I live in is extremely corrupt. I’ll be honest, I was living at home, working a minimum wage job, paying too much money a month for a decent car (2014 25k car), I was struggling financially overall. I had a hunger for money and power, ultimately leading me to find someone who could get me in, a “recruiter” if you will.
How did you get into this business?
I went to someone in the business. It took me 6 months before he offered me a job
How did you find this guy?
He ended up being a friend of a friend. It took him 6 months to offer me a job because the way I approached him was highly unusual.
Which cartel did you work for?
Cartel del Golfo (Gulf Cartel)
What were the top commodities of your cartel when you were in?
Coke, weed and meth. I never touched meth, that was a whole different league.
What were the wholesale prices of the drugs you were smuggling?
The price of one brick if cocaine in southern Texas/ California is about 19k. In Pittsburgh it’s about 38k.
How much did you make?
3 thousand to 5 thousand a week.
How easy were the jobs? Did you have to come up with creative ways to transport the drugs? If so, what’s your most creative way of doing it?
It was easy. The cartels have been doing this for a long time. They know exactly how to mask the smell and modify the vehicle. I can’t tell you the most creative way I’ve done it. The cartels have adopted it and now use it regularly, sorry.
What was it like the first time?
I wasn’t scared or nervous, I’m not really sure what I felt. I guess if anything I was excited because if it went well then I was going go get 3k for 2 days. The job was to drive from Point A to Point B. My recruiter called me once and hour to check up on my well being. My girl bestfriend would also check up on me every so often, so I was okay mentally. I had to drive for X number of hours and it was exhausting. I didn’t like to stop except for gas and energy drinks. When I finally arrived to my destination I was put in a hotel room where I had to wait 10 hours. This hotel was in the middle of nowhere in a different state so there was nothing to do. When the merchandise was finally unloaded from the vehicle I immediately drove back home. I remember feeling happy and relieved. I turned in the car and got paid.
Were you doing any drugs yourself?
When I got back from a job I would go out and party. I’d get quite a bit of coke as a reward so I’d do that with my friends.
Have you ever at any point had a close call or had your life in imminent danger by the cartel for a mistake or misunderstanding such as losing a load?
The 3 times I was caught and was able to walk away made everyone paranoid. The cartel thought I had ratted them out. I had to convince the boss in Mexico I would never. That was probably the scariest moment I had with them.
I’m more afraid of the cartel than the Feds.
You mentioned that you were more afraid of the cartel than the feds, in reality, how much power would you think they ACTUALLY have in terms of operating a murder in the US from Mexico? I’ve heard that despite they’re financial and man power, they can’t carry out kills in the states like they do easily in Mexico. To the point of having to either contract the killing to an American gang like MS13 or hope the target visits Mexico.
The cartel makes more than 10 billion a year. With enough money they can hire anyone. If they want someone dead then it’s going to happen. Like you stated, they may send their own people or just hire a gang, it really depends.
I was asked if I wanted to kidnap a woman for 10k. I said no. When I got involved in this business I promised myself I would not hurt innocent civilians.
What happened the first time you got caught and how did you walk away?
So the job was to drive from Point A to Point B as usual. There were a total of 4 cars. 1 lead car, followed by me, a buyer behind me and my bosses in the back. This job was delicate. This was the 2nd time I introduced my buyers to my bosses. They had bought 2 bricks of coke, but wanted it higher up north. So basically they were paying me to transport it farther up north. The lead car was purposely speeding in case there was any cops, they’d pull him over and not me. This was just an added precaution. I want to say a good 10 hours in, the 2 cars behind me start losing distance between me and the lead car. I call them and they’re 2 hours away, well fuck… I talk to the lead car and we make the decision to go on anyways. Another 8 hours in I pull over at a gas station and unexpectedly run into the lead car. He tells me the 2 back up cars are 4 hours away from us. He wants to go to a restaurant and wait for them, but I insist on driving forward without them. He agrees. Couple hours later we finally arrive to our destination. Now this is where the stupid luck comes in. There’s 2 hotels right next to each other. My buyer wanted me to stay at the same hotel as him, I think it was a “let’s have each other’s back” type play. I wait for him to get a room and then I walk across the street and get a room at the other hotel. At this point it’s about 2200 and I’m tired. I buy a case of beer and go to my room and wait for my boss. He arrives to the hotel around 0300. Job well done right? Not so fast, my buyers are only buying 2 bricks. The other bricks are being bought by my boss’s clients. Around 1100 my boss tells me he’s going to go meet his clients. He tells me to stay put with the car and as soon as he calls me to head over there with the car. 1 hour later I still don’t recieve a call so I decide to head over to the restaurant downstairs and grab a bite. One of my clients joins me and we start talking about business. 30 minutes later we finish and I walk back to my room.
I insert my keycard only to find it doesn’t work. No big deal, I’ll go to the front desk and have them give me a new one. I walk into the lobby and immediately notice a Police Officer and a DEA agent. The DEA agent was wearing a kevlar vest with DEA in gold on the back of it. They both turn and look at me and I just kept my poker face and approach the front desk clerk. He gives me a new keycard and I leave. I remained as calm as possible and started thinking how I’m gonna get out of this one. I walk upstairs to my room and I look around. Across the street I notice 2 SUVs parked in a way that if shit went down they were in the position to respond immediately. I go with my gut feeling and ditch going inside the room. I walk around aimlessly to see if I was being followed and sure enough I notice a civilian car following me. I walk towards a business and right before I walk in the same car pulls up and the same DEA agent I saw earlier steps out.
Agent 1: What’s your name kid?
Me: I don’t have to answer that.
Agent 1: What kind of car are you driving, is it here?
Me: I’m not answering that.
Agent starts getting frustrated and his partner gets off the vehicle and immediately makes me put my hands behind my head.
Agent 2: Look kid, we’re investigating a car break in and the suspect fits your profile.
Me: They called DEA for a break-in?
Agent 1: Ugh, we’re not DEA. We’re city name police department.
Me: Those 2 unmarked SUVs are yours, your firearm is in your waistband and you’re driving a civilian car. Police department doesn’t operate that way.
Agent 1 and 2: …
Agent 2: What kind of training do you have?
Me: I was a former cop.
They take my I.D. out of my wallet and tell me to stay put. They say they’re going to see if I had any warrants. After about 10 minutes they hand me my I.D. and let me go. I take a bus back home and nobody knows what to think of it. The cartels started pointing fingers at everyone, they even suspected me of being an undercover DEA agent. It was later revealed my boss’s ex ratted us out. To this day, we don’t know what happened to my boss. We’ve tried looking for him in jail/prison through online database but to no avail.
My best theory as to what happened is this. The meeting between my boss and his clients was a setup. The DEA thought he would have the coke in his car and moved in, once they realized he didn’t have the coke they scrambled back to the hotel to try and salvage their operation. They ended up towing the car. My buyers went into hiding and so did I. The DEA never went after me again after this ordeal.
What happened the 2nd time you got caught?
The 2nd time I was smuggling weed and I was caught under different circumstances. The DEA was called in and I thought they would know who I was because of the first time. They did not… So it worked out.
And the 3rd?
The 3rd time I was caught I was in handcuffs and surrounded by state police, local police, DEA, CID (criminal investigations divison), etc. I thought for sure I was going to do some time. When I was able to walk away I knew my lifestyle had to change.
Why were you not imprisoned?
I’ll just leave this link here:
How many people did you rat on to be caught smuggling 3 times and not be in prison?
None at all, but that was the main concern the cartel had.
What did convincing them of such look like?
Basically me going to Mexico and explaining what happened.
How did they respond to the loss in money? Any warnings?
Wasn’t my fault so I was in the clear.
Who’s fault is it?
A bitter ex girlfriend of my boss. She ratted us out. She was killed 1 month later.
How did you eventually leave the cartel (if you did)?
After my 3rd run in with the Feds, everyone said it was in my best interest to quit, which I did.
I was under the impression that joining a cartel was a permanent arrangement. You could just quit whenever and they’d be cool with that? Or was it specifically because of the close call.
As a mule you can quit whenever. By the 3rd time I was somewhat important. In addition to recruiting mules I was also bringing in buyers (people who buy in bulk). When I got caught the 3rd time the big bad boss in Mexico had no problem with me walking.
What’s the process of recruiting other mules involve?
Every “recruiter” has different methods. Me personally I target people who are working minimum wage jobs or college kids.
How much was total wealth at the end? Did you invest it and get out?
I laundered my money into a local bar. I still receive revenue. I made at least 200k
How did you launder the money?
The city I live in is extremely corrupt. Many business owners are tied to the cartel in some way. Cops are on Cartel payroll. All I had to do was ask for a favor and it was granted.
How corrupt are the police, border patrol and government officials in the surrounding border towns? How do they get away with it?
I would say majority of them are corrupt. I don’t mean corrupt in the sense that they’ll fight against their own government, but if they see something they’ll look the other way.
How have your experiences changed your perspective on the world around you
I learned a lot of things about this world. The people you’d least expect buy narcotics in bulk because there is money to be made. Judges, patrol units, court clerks, lawyers, business owners, churches, priests, etc.
Are the cartel bosses as professional and educated as any CEO/executive of a legitimately successful company in the US? What are their credentials? (MBA, etc.)
The top cartel bosses are damn near geniuses from what I’ve seen. To operate an entire network across the states is an accomplishment. Most of them attended school in the states or just learned from being in the business. It was said that if all the top cartel leaders came together to eradicate world-wide poverty they could do so easily.
What do you think it would take to stop the drug smuggling into the US?
Legalize drugs which won’t happen.