Cigars, Cartels & Cocaine + Mr. X

The Intro

The only thing missing from this story are hookers, but that’ll be a story for another day.

To be honest, I had no intention of sitting across from a member of the (xxx) cartel who from this point forward we’ll call Mr. X, but there I was smoking a cigar next to an urn full of cocaine, two rottweilers roaming around me and several weapons of varying lethality strewn about.

How I got into this situation is as absurd as the situation itself. A friend of mine who is an ex-U.S. Marine set up this meeting for me when I asked if he knew anyone who could help expand my business.

He told me about a guy who might be able to help that he met a week or two prior at a gentlemans club. That guy was now sitting across from me about two and half feet away taking sporadic bumps of nose candy and telling me how I should buy industrial grade copper wire from him.

Background Info

I love my friend, he’s a great guy. He’s the kind of guy you want around when you find yourself in a bar fight or if the country needs saving. But as I’ve now learned, he isn’t the type of person to rely on for mundane things like networking; clearly. His level of intensity, moral compass and sense of humor are just different from mine.

Let me clarify something, my friend is half my size but can take down a person twice my size if they existed. I am 6’3 and 230 lbs; one time I tried to play fight my friend and he quickly showed me that he could break me without trying.

So if there were anybody I’d want to be where I was, it would be him; even though he was the reason I was there in the first place.

The Setup

For better or worse, I have several businesses that I operate. One in particular needed a certain material that I wasn’t finding a good deal on.

My friend who I believe has good intentions 90% of the time, promptly got on the phone and as it turned out, that very moment was the perfect time to meet up with Mr. X.

I had nothing else going on that day, so I said let’s go meet up your contact.

We went to his condo located in Houston. This was an odd high rise with minimal security and even less maintenance done to it. It wasn’t falling apart or anything, but of all the high rises I’ve been in; this was the least looked after.

Mr. X owned 7 units on the floor and lived in the middle one. As soon as we walked into his unit, I knew this was a bad idea; more so than when we were going up the dimly lit elevator.

Over the years I’ve developed a knack for sniffing out trouble and all of my alarm bells were ringing as if God herself were telling me to turn back now.

We get to the front door and instead of knocking, my friend texts Mr. X, who after a few seconds opens the door. He steps outside and looks to the left of the hallway and then to the right, then invites us in.

Mr. X had what looked like a cold sweat on his forehead as he dryly greeted us. Stepping further into his condo, I saw the weapons and I immediately looked at my friend who said, “ok bro I am out.”

He said he’ll be waiting downstairs and at that point he left me standing there with Mr. X.

The Meeting

I wanted to ring my friends neck, but that’s something I’d have to deal with later as the matter at hand required me to draw on every bit of street knowledge I had acquired over the years.

Rule #1, in the famous words of Jules Winnfield, “be cool b*tch.”

Mr. X assured me his dogs were friendly even though they looked rabid, but at this point I couldn’t just leave or at least I thought I shouldn’t, therefore it didn’t matter anyway. So although I didn’t trust him or his dogs, I said, “no worries its all good.”

We sat down on barstools at the counter, which I guess was his office and that’s when I noticed the urn full of cocaine. I don’t do drugs, but I know what a lot looks like and that was a sh*t ton of yeyo.

He offered me some, but I told him its not my thing. I offered him a cigar and he took one and said he’ll smoke it later, but I was welcome to light up.

So I did and at that moment realized how girls feel on a date they don’t want to be on. They could be smiling right at you, but in their mind they’re waiting for the first opportunity to bail. I was definitely a girl on a bad date.

Cartels

This isn’t my first encounter with a cartel. In Honduras I used to own a bottle water company and there were some neighborhoods where we delivered water and had to pay off the local cartels who ran the neighborhoods in order to do business there.

Dealing with cartel’s in Honduras wasn’t any sort of friendly affair, it’s just a line item on the ledger. A tax every delivery person had to pay to enter and exit their neighborhoods. One thing I learned speaking to low level cartel members is that they’re just people doing their jobs.

In Honduras, their job was to collect a toll for anyone doing business in their respective territories. The toll would change daily, but it wasn’t anything to cry over. I was happy our clean water was being delivered to people who needed it and no one was getting robbed or killed in the process.

Mr. X

Mr. X wasn’t a low level member, nor was he related to the cartel I dealt with in Honduras, but I also didn’t know where he sat on the totem pole. What I did figure out quickly was that I should just cut the small talk and get to the point.

The point was me getting out of there as soon as possible which meant I had to do a little dance before exiting stage left without raising any suspicion. I had no intention of buying anything from him, but I told him what I was looking for anyway.

He advised that he will see what he could do, but it was my lucky day because he’d recently stumbled upon spools of heavy gauge copper wire. In my head I was thinking, what f*ck was I going to do with copper wire… but I played along and said, “I don’t need any copper wire now, but I’ll see if I know anyone who does.”

Remember, “be cool b*tch.”

Thinking I can move product for him, he also said he had quite a bit of concrete and roofing shingles.

Let this be a lesson, cartels don’t just sell drugs. They acquire all kinds of commodities through means we’ve all seen on TV and then move them on the black market.

Honestly I didn’t care for any of it and every bump of white he took, the more I thought I needed to get the f*ck out of there asap. I felt like I was one tick of the clock away from DEA breaking through the door guns blazing, a rival busting in hot or Mr. X flipping out on me thinking I was setting him up.

Mr. X asked about all that I did and I told him just enough to let him know I was just a regular business person and not law enforcement. He took a particular interest in one of my companies and immediately suggested I get to know his cousin who works at a publicly traded company and could work some magic internally to help generate more revenue for us all.

Not only did it sound illegal, but also a deal with the devil I had no intention of getting into. This is how people like me end up in Otisville.

But being that Mr. X was charged up on Bolivian fuel, he immediately called his cousin and handed his phone to me.

While begrudgingly talking to his cousin, I was trying to explain as much as I could without leaving any breadcrumbs that would lead back to me. I changed up my business model just enough to make it as unappealing as possible and his cousin said let’s stay connected and ended the call.

By this time Mr. X established that he couldn’t help me immediately and I too was of no immediate use. So at that point, we both just silently sat there and that was my queue.

Meeting Adjourned

I told Mr. X I appreciated his hospitality and that I should get back to my friend waiting downstairs. He asked me to hang back a bit longer and I told him that next time we could kick it but I had a couple of other appointments I needed to get to.

Honestly I had nothing else to do that day, but only a moron would divulge that in a time like this.

For the next few weeks his cousin called every couple of days to see if we could work this deal out and I kept dodging the conversation and wondering how he got my phone number. I told him that timing was really bad as I’ll be traveling and when I got back we could revisit the dialogue.

Fortunately they just faded away and I dodged a life altering entanglement with the (xxx) cartel.

My “Friend”

I get downstairs and in my natural calm yet irate mannerism, I told my friend he was a real a$$hole for doing that. He was laughing vigorously and asked me how it went.

I told him that guy must have snorted a couple of grams of powder in front of me; his heart had to have been beating at a sub-4 minute mile rate.

I wasn’t particularly scared for my life in that moment, but I also didn’t want this situation to evolve beyond that day, because at some point I’d end up on the wrong end of a deal and a blow torch.

Fortunately since that day, my friend has calmed down quite a bit. He’s married now and is looking forward to a life as a family man. But looking back I can see the humor in it.

Fortunately for the both of us its a story we can share and not a life either of us has to live.