Was A Smuggler In The Merchant

York to florid^ , % v^si^^'iin j^^jLore itn^jijst walk ipUjj^ä^dwtte iffitf^ in

Beirut, jacque$ ^Br-Kis'najrie,-h« was: absolutely, cca»y fo^piat^VtiwoHl<ä bring him pistols and he would load me, tip with hash. But it:. wasn't just Jacques who loved' pistols. It seumed every Arab: I ran into had a craving fbr one, so that's the way I'd : atari oat. ByInadingiup-with pistols 1 used io get < these ¿38 Supers wiiich-are:pn a .45 frame, made by Go!t;but the/d befaster and more powerful than the .4Ss/:il took a olie§tfM»itive-type bulfet.Ire-fmcmib^tjiatijonce l

- snub-noied .^¿ofmyiiwh.It;^ason^tfalloy. frame, 1 what they call a-Colt }acques,-he just didn't dig|hat. \Vhatrhe <wanted:Waa;a big, ba^-ass 'I ;America|ri pistol. ■

he'd säy, "Bring me plenty of spherics." which :

■ apj»«jqtly jn^f buHeti ''Many-,«ph^ries/-he'd say. ■ ^o^y, toto-the jidtitake;a v cab into town andgivethe store a phohyriame and a phony address.; I could get one gun and extra clips

| and..say,two^xes of amn>unitbÄ för.SlOff.jAnd for i that-heid give me about $300worth of -h'ash. Over : 1he'rfl»it 'vventf or a bp ut^ßpap oundl and Ay henlgo t i t

* bj^ h^ej d9peD^ng on ihe|naiket, if would go for :

■ ; pound.:biow ,that?s when I

;' first met Jacques, before we.really got into it. When I .

;;,two;but^ wltfen^e had "it deiivered iornycabfnaboard ship.

Howftid hash, into the States? f could aay? easy,' But it wasn't. A lot: of work was involved. fhada loiedown inChinatown and atotof $ ^ jWeiwa: how;:1

16 reproduce things. So I would buy thesostatuus or big wood-carvings ipSpam apd,t>r«ng them, back to. ■... N^ YoHcto^ikfl^pla'sijc^atev.'! moltfof them and then a mother mold ofthat. And I would bring that . , aboard ship withmeujid store it in my storeroom. ; Öf¡feiij", fiytsiM: -.^"¿a ifeiia.iäi^edlt/stp^ke pof. -1 could *

the götj demn - pas^tways ^ the- ship .w itht h is 9t>-hpoundifeägkpf hashish. Everybody in the ship would '.be^i^^ö^jiteD:it>lS<>^ne^t^'iiiy cjoni&s, wtj'cl fib to'"k the empty stateroom.and we would divide it up so we could caffyiit throi^h;th6, passageways. Each guy would carry mayh^ien%äi3 and we'd bring it up io my storeroom and then Tel-go to work with plaster.

in there, but v that waä nbprobfon: ^J tay the bars qfhash into : my mold and pour the plaster in and imake these huge bas-reliefs or plaqueiror statues., X&^Ä^ii« 1> k ]

• Or I'd fake barsiolsoap. I'd make a mold of a bar of s Maja in^p. All bring back Maja soap; their old ladies would go. wild about it, so i'd :-;. .buy' a .ijcttle uiridejr a:gross;fin spain Only about. 25 'cen^ä^^^ls^^'iC^^ of-jno®^; Vd?have'Jo ■ ' gut an importer's license, which wouldn't hove been coi>l. Now rdinake m absolutely pe,rf$ct mold of this; bar of ^he hash ijgöiti fröis Jacques ,usually • came in thesei2-ounce bärs^ so i'd cut them down to four-ounct; blocks and go down inlu thö- l.iuixlry room late at night and make like i'm doirtgjpmy laundry. We had a.little steampipe down there that ( you could open up to bod water with. i'd put: the . watur into a bucket, taki^a"^ouf-ouncesbar ind put it into a bojpjio, ind submerge it into the • water until it was soft as putty, then i'd put it into my plastic-steel mold, plai^^t togeitherand^ w^d come out a perfect im^rossion of the bar o^oap:the next thins i'd do is paint each bar ;pf soap^with "an aerylic:pnnt fd mix up bejpri^ I left new.York. it! lather^¿ch b'ar with a thin coating of the sOap itself; f lather it on a paving brush so that it hjid. the exact . smell and feel ¿fso^p. Then|'d j^tltbacki^ the .. wrapper, wh|^ i'd opened earlier, very carefully No way ybm-'coujalm it wasn't ma(a /-o f>

; Änother way: Wfe'rfibiirtgf jt 4n would be -these1 great ::. big basket-covered bottfes of wini;. Oiive oil would come that way, top, in-Italy, and; that ay^s :b.eit.eiE f because you .can only bringm:onelga3'ipp.ö?.wisUMj^wt' T five gallon ¡iigs of oil was okay. So i'd go ashore, say in;Genoa, "an^I'd pick'up a hooker^d^kher if;^'

I'dand open it. It would have a red sealing-wax tqp So I'd have .-> biought Fed -sealiri^ Wax '¿hat;exactly top ot'-the boUie.1 rd:äinpty out the oil and submerge . the h ish into the bottle. in Öiese long lurdlifee cotis ^wrapped in Seran WraipL 'be sitt&g döwp f there in the bottom of the bottle. th«n '?<} heat up > some paraffin «nd pour that in to seal off the hash.:". : Then i'd -pour the oil bafckH'i and Cook up 1 he sealing wax and close up the bottle again. And to makA: it : look exactly right. i'd press an Italian coin, into the . top of the seal and put. that Ijttie wire band through there again and it would: look j ike a regälar seal. What the fuck, those Customs guys couldn't road Italian or whatever, so they didn't know. They didn't even question that.

V - VVj'.ter T. Kr<ii:th as tnlti to Anthony Tuttl.!. iiifth Times. June 1976

border. Though Op In was more bark than bite, the odds for making it ashore with a contraband load along Florida's 1,500-mile coastline seemed better..

Jamaican weed boosted the pot culture considerably, turning on those for whom Mexican weed was too weak and introducing seasoned smokers to the delights of variety. At prices from $200 to $250 a pound, S20-S25 an ounce, it marked the entrance of top-shelf pot on the market and the sales unit conversion from metric to avoirdupois to suit American tastes. Most of the Jamaican arrived in boats-sloops preferred, because of their cheap cost and silent operation. The day of the multi-ton cargo plane lumbering beneath the narc's radar was yet to come.

In 1971 the federal nares, reorganized for the third time as the DBA, launched a major offensive against the Caribbean smugglers with a blockade of Jamaica. Operation Buccaneer worked on the theory that most ships would have to pass through the Windward Passage, between Cuba and Haiti.. Willi the cooperation of local coastal authorities, U.S. D-men began searching every ship that passed. The flow of J.amaican ceased in 1973 as quickly as it had appeared, but almost simultaneously the Colombian connection was fused.

The end of the Vietnam W;ar and the return of danger-inured veterans provided yet another variable. Not only were a iot Of people turned on to pot in the army; but resentment of many at having to go in the first place, along with their lack of welcome on return, made for easy conversion from war veteran to outlaw. Many of the pot planes that filled the sky beginning in 1973 were piloted by armed services veterans. The DBA points this out dramatically in the high incidence of ex-servicemen involved in smuggler-plane crashes, and Chief Peter Bensinger blames the inexperience and youth of tile pilots as the reason.

There is ample evidence, however, that the biggest smuggling syndicates are in fact organized not by disillusioned vets but by highly skilled CIA and secret agent types. Supersmuggler Ken Bumstine had numerous government agency links and, when finally brought to bay, spilled enough names for 60 i n d ic t men ts, m any o f t hem p o 1 Uical f i g it res and undercover people mixed up in the CIA/Cuban culture that flourishes in southern Florida. Bumstine died mysteriously before he could testify, but some of the loose ends that prosecutors pursued-particularly i the indictment for conspiracy to import weed of Mitchell WerBell, jungle fighter, CIA agent and soldier of fortune who in turn named DBA big Lucien Conein, Chaijes Colson and Richard Nixon before

IMPORTING WITH RADIO WAVES Smart smuggler arc relying more and more on the miracles of technology to outwit the ubiquitous D-mart A hot new item, tried and tested in the Pacific, is the timed radio tone. The type tested in the "National Weed" experiment was an lnstitut Dr. Forster Detector 4.016, manufactured in GrathwOhl-strassc, Germany. Here's how it's used:

A plastic barrel is filled with contraband and attached to the side of a boat for open shipping in i i lieni at ional w aters (1)

If a Coast Guard cutter should approach the boat after it has passed within the 12-mile limit, a special underwater buoy, which contains the sending device, is attached, by cable, to the barrel. The barrel is lowered underwater and out of sight (2). The Detector will register the jettison navigation points and measure the depth to which the barrel has sunk. All the while, the boat keeps moving. If they search the ship, they won't find a thing (3)

The Detector waits quietly underwater, preset to emit, a single frequency tone at intervals ranging from a few seconds to a few weeks. A strobe light, preset to flash simultaneously with the radio tone, is a recommended accessory»

The boat returns in a few days to the general area to wait for the signal. For the feds to pick up on the signal, they would have to listen to several hundred frequencies day and uight and discern the single tone from the others-an almost impossible task. But the boat knows when and where to wail.. When the tone is heard and located, a diver goes down to bring up the bounty (4)

And another load makes it to the marketplace.

Peter Pry or High Times. March 19/7

tkr A

being acquitted indicates big time smuggling may have liidden sanctions in the highest levels of government. ,

Discounting these channels and the increasing rumor that the Mafia now has the handle on the Colombian connection, the bulk of South America's finest has come in through independent smugglers. Some of the independents have reached such proportions that they have formed associations the Midwest Dealers' Association, the Southern Dealers' Association and the Northeast Dealers" Association are real organizations whose groups not only move pot from field to street corner but also contribute money to worthy social and political movements. The SDA pumped thousands into the Chicago Eight defense. The Gainesville Dealers' Association gave $8,000 to a Florida muscular dystrophy telethon, and the Confederation, "an association of independent marijuana, hashish and hashish oil smugglers, ton dealers, growers and transporters" according to the accompanying statement, gave $10,000 to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NOR ML) j

Many people have made personal fortunes dealing weed; others have lost their shirts, A common estimate passed around the smuggling trade and laws ciroles puts the number of people directly involved in smuggling along the Arizona border alone at over 10,000. Every year, hundreds of thousands of tons of smoke gel stopped between field and street, while about ten times that amount makes it through.

MONEY AND MARIJUANA Millions of people make up the machinery that moves marijuana, most of them invisible and all of them criminal-more than 30 million, if you accept the federal legal definition of a felon distributor as anyone who in any way posses any amount of dope to another person. Unfettered by rules or regulations, open to anyone with a dollar, a world of shadowy profit penumbras, credit . liens of violence and the ever-present rip-off, the pot market is the purest form of competitive capitalism, developed in the vacuum outside the law where, as the poet sings, to live you must be honest. . It is no place for amateurs.

The successful dealer is a master of diverse skills: as salesperson "you gotta know the territory," from climate conditions in Santa Mart a, Colombia, to the latest rage in rolling papers at the local he ads hop, to what the competition is up to; a shrewd judge of character, able to gauge the bizarre human variable in the netherworld* the macho loners, schizoid informers, rips, cops, pretenders and the rest; and above all, a mathematician. It is an oft-repeated observation that no one figures faster than a dealer. A competent dealer can compute the costs of a major transaction, from diesel fuel for the fork lifts to the hujmL roaches in front of him, between hits of a joint..

The term dealer generally means a person who sells pot, from "weight dealers," who scorn any deal less than ten pounds, to the ever-increasing "loose joint" hawkers in major cities. Local dealers are supplied by "front men /women," or

AMERICA'S MOST PROFITABLE HOBBY Not only is pot a fully established part of modern living, it is also an essential segment of our national economy. With six million unemployed, profits floundering and stockbrokers leaping out of skyscrapers, practically the only hope sustaining the economy is the brisk business of getting high, and the only thing holding up the Dow Jones Industrial average is the sound of purposeful sniffing on Wall Street every morning. The worse it gets, (he more people want to get high, and the only gold bricks that arc a sure bet arc those reefer bricks: the price always goes up, and if not you can always roll up and smoke it%

A few simple calculations based on the government's own figuics suggest (he vast scope of this modem, successful industry. If there are 20,000,000 regular marijuana smokers, a]id each smokes just one modest ounce of boo per month, that means a weekly consumption of over 160,OCX) pounds of pod! Analyzing a typical distribution pattern, this means that over 200,OCX) people are employed full-time just in dealing marijuana, not to mention an approximate 800,000 others earning a partial income ("America's most profitable part-time hobby." as one sage puts it). Further elampdowns on pot traffic could throw the U.S. into an economic tailspin that only declaring war on Saudi Arabia or legalizing cocaine could pull us out of. Unless, of course, some nut decides to get us out of the Second Depression by declaring "war" on dope, thus war on ourselves.

"Flashes* High Times. Winter 1975

Muskogee, Miss, haul nets 300 lbs. Of pot and assorted hardware.

"first accounts," who receive the smoke from the smugglers. Smugglers, in turn, are ofteu bankrolled by other people, some of whom term themselves, quite seriously, "importers to the trade." There are field hands, plantation owners, officials, marinas, lawyers and loads of others peripheral to the actual importation and distribution of a shipment of pot, but for the sake of discussion, the term dealer in this text will incorporate only those involved in the purchase and sale of marijuana from the field on. Almost anyone up to and including this level has been a dealer at one point-even the bankroller-and realize a bad break could reduce them to peddling lids to their friends once again. The dealer is central to the marijuana market.»

As of this writing, most pot that reaches the U. S. comes from three main areas: Mexico, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. Exotic weeds, such as African Black, Lebanese, Panamanian or Indian, appear less frequently, and usually in minor amounts. Recent advances in the once-maligned domestic strains, particularly sinsemilla, will certainly alter the pot market, perhaps to the point where imported cannabis will become a thing of the past.. More will be said on this later.

THE MEXICAN CONNECTION Available year round, inexpensive, suitably potent to satisfy most consumers, Mexican is the most common commercially, marketed weed. This is mainly because Mexico's l ,000-mitéborder, between Brownsville, Texas, and Tijuana, is crossed by scores of dusty roads and vast stretches of isolated plains and desert.. Until L966, according to veteran dope journalist Jerry Kamstra, kilos could be carried across "in the back seat of a car," but mushrooming potheads and the consequent crackdown soon necessitated other inventions. Those who couldn't figure how to redesign the wheelbase of a car or the panels of a camper could always take to the desert by horseback and ford the Rio Grande. About the time Customs got wise to the wheel wells and panels, the airplane came into style, with hundreds droning into Arizona, New Mexico and southern California deserts following Nixon's 1969 war on drugs and its much publicized but ineffective, except psychologically, Operation Intercept. .

Buying pot in Mexico is tricky business. Established importers contract with owners of farms and plantations on "futures," as it were, assuring the buyer knows what he's getting; but the vagaries of climate, greedy local officials, busts, higher bidders, even spider mites, can throw the intricacies of a long-range plan into chaos. Time is the smuggler's enemy. The faster a

Muskogee, Miss, haul nets 300 lbs. Of pot and assorted hardware.

HIGHWAY 15 REVISITED In the beginning, marijuana smuggling was easy. There were few competitors, no rip-offs, no dogs, no electronic surveillance gimmicks, no banditos, no super-organized hustlers, no federates patrolling the mountains, no helicopters, no shoolouls and lots of camaraderie among the few gringos in the biz. There was also no veal marijuana culture yet established, so there was Utile knowledge, haphazard quality, lots of stumbling around and lots of profit for small investments. The first few trips my partner and I made in the early Sixties were handled in such an incredibly naive fashion that now I shudder to think of it. I shudder even more when Ithink of how others were doing it; they were actually driving their kilos home in the back seats of Chevys or mailing ihem Special Delivery in shoe boxes purchased in Guadalajara. I wonder how many of those temp ting "looking packages ended up unopened in U.S. Postal Service auctions? I bid 25 cents, sir!

Jerry Kamstra High Times, Dec. 1976

load can be negotiated, imported, distributed and paid for, the belter. To that end, most well-oiled smuggling ventures have a person stationed in prime pot-growing areas-Oaxaca, GueiTero, Acapulco-who acts as purchasing agent.. Sampling the local products, the agent will arrange for purchase, from 100 kilos to ''buying the crop,'1 and for an airplane. The Mexican seller in most transactions is responsible for picking, packaging and moving the pot to the aitfield.

First-time purchasers usually have to pay for their load up front, but favored clients and good references can pay half up front, the rest when the load has safely arrived and moved into vans. Moving money across borders is a fine art in itself, and even the smallest smuggling cabal has one person who does little else than run bags of money between buyers and sellei-s. Bigger

Inside Operation Intercept Headquarters. Washington D.C.. 1970

operations hire attorneys or accounting firms as bagmen, with payments in kind of real estate, stock certificates and even gold and silver not uncommon. Guns are sometimes patJayed into pot, but not as often as the DEA claims, and seldom into revolutionary armories-another favorite DEA hype. 'The Mexicans will, happily trade grass for guns,'1 one smuggler said during preparation for this chapter. 'They're all. gun nuts; they love guns. All the slop signs are Tilled with holes, beer bottles shot up, animals, abandoned cars Guns are a hot commodity; they'll sell anywhere in Mexico." Mexican dealers also trade in clocks, radios, office equipment and other items with huge tariffs. A clock in Mexico City costs about four times what it does in Phoenix, and enterprising importers are quick to point this out to equally enterprising growers, who, through clever- caveats, can double or triple their gains. CommodiLy trading became particularly attractive to the Mexican dealers around 1972 when many discovered their gringo partners were paying in counterfeit money.

The price of Mexican weed has held stable over the years-unlike its Caribbean counterparts, whose prices have risen almost 300 percent since 1973. A kilo of palatable smoke cost $25-$50 at most border towns in the late Sixties. The price edged up about $10 a year and today you can buy single keys for $100-5150 at border towns. For bigger buys the price drops considerably. A popular package in 1970 was 100 keys for $4,000. This package stilL sells today, though some importers claim the quality has suffered. Prices per key on bigger deals plummet astronomically. A good agent should be able to nail down 1,000 keys for less than $20,000. In deals of this stature there is always the possibility local officials will, get wind and show up for their handout, the infamous mordido-"the bite"-and the agent sometimes has to cough up a few grand for this

You're probably saying, 'Swell.. Wliai are we supposed 10 do, meet in Guam?' Well, don't be so snappish. The best tiling is to have the seller follow you to the place of a friend, so that the seller doesn't know where it is ahead of lime. After buying ii, you duck out the back way and hide it or lake it home, while your friend delays the selLer from leaving by showing him dirty pictures.

If you're really paranoid, meet the seller at a large nudist camp. Then, while you're both naked (this avoids hidden microphones and tape recoixJers), lake him lo a secluded place. He sels Ihe grass down by an oak tree, you give him the money and walk back with him. A friend of yours comes from (he other side, puts the grass in a different package and leaves. This process, youll find, is foolproof.. Only eight people have been busted using this method."

A Child's Garden of Grass Jack S. Margolis. £ Richard Cloifene

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