Money Flights


Money Flights

In a recent blog, I talked about the two types of airline personnel who steal from passengers: the professionals who target other criminals and the morons who target everyday passengers.

The professionals profile their victims. If you paid cash for your ticket on the same day as your flight, there’s a good chance you’re moving drugs and/or money, so you might never see your bags again. Homeland Security actually uses the same system today to profile potential risk passengers.

The professionals were especially watching for passengers going to: Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Panama, Port-Au-Prince, Santo Domingo, and, in the States, Los Angeles, NYC, and Miami. Why? Because they are the biggest suppliers of drugs to the United States. The drugs come in. How do you get the payment home? Often in luggage. (Although, since I knew about the profiling, I always urged my cartel contacts to bring it home in other ways.)

Before 911, security at Miami International was a joke. There was a lot of money to be made in the drug trade, and many of the workers were cashing in. Certain flights were well-known to be “money flights,” either because drugs were easily moved on those flights or a passenger had been profiled and there was likely to be drugs and/or money on board. The crew chief coordinator was in on it and would move in his “professional” crew to take advantage. There were actually fist-fights in the locker room as people battled over territory.

My first involvement with the money flights was not by design. In 1997, I was new at my job as Crew Chief in the outbound room, overseeing domestic and international flights. I was aware of the trafficking of currency and, one night, a crew member asked if I would send my workers on break and let his crew “close out” the flight from Bogota. Did I know what he was doing? Probably, but I respected him, so I turned a blind eye. All I cared about was him gettting the paperwork to me on time.

About a week later, the same guy asked me to meet with him in his car. He pressed a button and a secret compartment opened. A vacuum-sealed plastic bag fell to the floor.

“This is your cut,” he said.

I picked it up. There were a lot of Benjamins in there. I stared at it, thinking about how it would give me breathing room during the messy break-up with my wife, Maya. I took the money. And that was the beginning of the end for me. My values and, eventually, my freedom came to a full stop.

The complete story of my time smuggling drugs for a Colombia cartel and working as a DEA confidential informant will be in my forthcoming memoir, The Baggage Handler.

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14 Responses to Money Flights

  1. wildinvirginia says:

    Ugh man, I’ve been desperate for another installment lol Every time you show up in my inbox I get excited and the disappointment when it’s another ‘follower’ thank you kills me lol.

    There are two things I find absolutely fascinating about your blog. Yeah like you asked lol.

    The first is the detail, the logistics of how things work. Not just the thrill stuff, the cartels and the money and danger tho I know that’ll be page turning stuff and will be the reason most buyers pick up your book. But for me it’s also the basics, I’m an addict for how things work. From cartels and DEA’s sure, but to the systems and logistics of airlines, the behind the scenes, the nuts and bolts of your careers and how they entwine and the less scary but incredibly rich character’s like Jorge your new boy welcoming committee. If I have one piece of influence on this memoir through unasked for feedback it would be don’t scrimp on that detail. A screenplay may read differently but for me, I’m looking for the detail and can’t wait to get it. Of course the airlines or national security geeks might get to you first lol. A vacuum sealed package from a drop down panel, to which aircraft carry what containers according to aircraft design … love that stuff!

    The second thing is where are the detractors? Everyone posting loves you! Yet drug cartels, dealers and all involved have got to be among the world’s most hated right? You talk about your past and your career as something you need to make ammends for. That’s commendable don’t misunderstand me, but through my work and my husband’s, I’ve met plenty of people trying to do the same and without much luck. Most people aren’t very forgiving about things they do understand let alone the scope of international drug smuggling and involvement with foreign cartels which they know only what the media and the government would have us believe. I’ll bet you there are people loving you and your blog who still wouldn’t buy a Cuban cigar on principle lol. The average member of the public wouldn’t comprehend that drug users aren’t all hideous crack heads into crime and depravity – whenever I’ve spoken about my own use of drugs, whilst working and holding serious jobs and even representing local givernment, people are stunned. More so if I also talk about other white collar, blue collar and every shade in between users. People have an idea of what is, what tbey think they know, and wont budge. When you get to the level you operated at people are convinced we’re talking about war lords and gangsters and murderers of the most contemptible kind. It’s rare to find ways to get people to see things differently. Yet I have never once read a post left for you that treats you with anything but respect and genuine warmth. Is this because those with other views wont post? Is it because they don’t read at all? That I doubt because let’s face it, people are as addicted to reading and watching what they loathe so they can confirm their opinion while feeding their fix lol. So all I can assume is that other people are as drawn to something in your style that instantly draws them to your side. Sure your humility and references to past lives and making ammends is enough for some, but honestly I think you have something I can’t name and as much as I think this book is going to fly off the shelves just because of it’s content and your unique perspective, I think your ability to tell a story is what will lead you into a long career of writing. Once you get done with your own story and just being you, I suspect you’d have a career in full on fiction. Assuming we’re not all being duped by the greatest story teller ever and you’re actually a forty year old housewife using her breaktime at Walmart to write the best fiction I’ve ever been drawn into. Because let me tell ya, apart from a Le Carrel novel on international spies I perservered with years back because my Dad bought it for me, this is so not my genre. Yet as you can tell … I’m hooked!

    If you get to a point where you need to fill space in this book post a blog asking Any Questions? I’ll bet your regular readers are like me. They’ll already have a ton of questions and if you answer those in the relevant chapters you’ll be done…. call the editor 🙂 Or the proof reader … you bet I’m offering lol

  2. Nothing left to say. ‘WildInVirginia’ said it all. And, said it beautifully. 🙂

  3. onsunnyside says:

    I am truly enjoying your blog and I wouldn’t have found you if you had not stopped by mine! Thank you for that!

  4. Samantha says:

    I concur with everyone else on here – WildinVirginia summed up my thoughts. Your blog is fascinating!

  5. Hisanik High says:

    So, this is the first post I read in your blog since it’s on the top page. At first, I only plan to make a ‘little stop’ for this blog, since you come to mine. And then, I decided I can’t do this ‘stopping by’ act, because in the end I read so many posts in this blog! Really, your blog sure is rock 😀

  6. T Hollis says:

    Wow! So glad you realized the trap you were in and so glad you stopped by my Posts.
    Thanks for following my Posts.

  7. jannatwrites says:

    I’ve read a few of your posts and I don’t know if it’s more frightening or fascinating. Frightening, because it seems relatively easy for drugs to move beyond the security measures. And fascinating…well, for the same reason.

    My heart sank when you accepted the cut. It’s a dangerous life- that makes your memoir all the more intriguing.

  8. I’m pretty speechless so I’m going to ditto what jannatwrites said.

  9. lucylingphotography says:

    damn! tell me more….

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