Mano, my contact with the Colombia cartel, and I were hanging out at my home when the installer for a satellite TV company showed up.
We all hit it off right away. El Gordo was a heavy-set guy with a great sense of humor. After he installed my satellite TV, he asked if we wanted any recreational drugs (weed, coke), and we declined. He had no idea at the time what we did for a living!
But el Gordo was the kind of person who would get you whatever you wanted, so I kept his number around.
One day I had to pick up kilos of cocaine for Mano at a shopping mall in another county, so I offered el Gordo $5,000 to drive me there in his van. The philosophy that got me through my drug smuggling days was “business as usual.” I was always looking for ways to blend in, to not be noticed, to get in and out quickly. So I had el Gordo bring me a work t-shirt so that to anyone looking, I was just The Satellite TV Guy.
The pick up went off without a hitch, and el Gordo asked if he could sell the product for me. The kilos were already spoken for, I told him, but maybe next time.
There was a next time, and more times after that until el Gordo fell with other dominos in a DEA sting.
Excerpted from the forthcoming memoir, The Baggage Handler.