Smugglers of Misery – Part II

The Smugglers of Misery – Part II

Major Tijuana dealers – whose headquarters are sometimes protected by machine-gun-toting guards – supply the entire United States. Tipped off by an informer in September 1967 that a Ford station wagon loaded with marijuana would cross the border at Calexico, Customs officials decided to trail the smugglers. Four days and 3,300 miles later, the couriers pulled into north Bergen, N.J., headquarters of Angel Roberto Millan, a Cuban national known as a major New York dealer. Right behind were the men from Customs. They jumped from their cars, grabbed more than half a ton of marijuana, and arrested Millan and the two couriers, all of whom were convicted in federal court.

Customs agents seized the cars of 1516 smugglers as they crossed the Mexican border last year. But big-time operators use other forms of transportation as well. Yachts and high-speed launches leave Southern California for Ensenada and other Mexican ports, returning with caches of marijuana. Some smugglers rent small planes to bring in the stuff. Customs’ agents arrested nearly 1,700 of these other marijuana smugglers along the borders of the Southwest last year – “ and still the stuff comes in”, says a weary government official, “night and day”.

Pill Carriers.

 Mexico is also the source of millions of goofballs (barbiturates) and bennies (amphetamines) that are sold in school yards throughout the United States. In 4 years the number of pills seized at the Tijuana checkpoint has increased 70-fold and beleaguered Customs agents admit they get only a fraction of the illicit cargo.

A typical pill smuggler was Donald Rice, 25-yr old San Franciscan and admitted drug user. In testimony before a Congressional committee, Rice said he started in the business with $25, purchasing stolen pills from employees of a California military depot. As business grew, Rice and his 14-man organization turned to Mexican suppliers. Rice would purchase $3,000 work of Tijuana bennies and pay a local runner $1,000 to take them across the border, stashed in an automobile gas tank. When sold to San Francisco wholesalers, the pills brought $12,000 – a handsome profit for a weekend’s work.

Investing in *Heroin.

 The really big money, say agents, is made in the hard stuff – cocaine and heroin.

Poverty-stricken Indians cultivate coca bushes on the steppes of the Andes, selling the leaves for pennies a pound. These are broken down to pulp, refined, and smuggled into the United States by Latin American syndicates. By the time it’s cut and recut, a kilo of cocaine will bring $360.000 in street sales.

Pure cocaine is usually brought into Miami or New York by couriers who fly up from South America carrying false-bottom suitcases or wearing custom-made vests. Last year New York police arrested a Chilean smuggler who had brought in 44 lbs of cocaine secreted in specially made wine bottles. The courier worked for a Santiago syndicate that smuggled millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine and heroin a year.

* Ref : “Merchants of Heroin”, The Reader’s Digest, August ’68, September ‘68

SeeThe Smugglers of Misery – Part III’

 Source: The Reader’s Digest, April 1970, by William Schulz

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