The Campaign For DA

8.27.2012

How We Almost Formed A Mexican Drug Cartel


As I was saying . . . .

On our Mexican vacation one day, we scheduled to go "deep" sea fishing. At the designated time, four couples showed up at the pier not far from our hotel only to see a boat that wasn't nearly as big as promised.  One couple, who are huge fans of getting exactly what they pay for, rejected the opportunity and negotiated a refund -- which was no small feat considering the captain and his first mate spoke little English, and didn't look like the sort of people which were familiar with the term "refund".

But soon the six of us remaining would-be anglers were off whereupon Mrs. LL and I immediately got sea sick and spent the better part of four hours laying on our backs and looking at the sky.

Until.

The other two guy passengers on the boat, I'll call them Guy #1 and Guy #2, became verbally excited and convinced the captain to circle back for something they had seen. A marlin in the water? Dolphin? Nope. It was a package -- probably 12"x6"x6" - bobbing up and down in the ocean.

"Oh, yes!" Guy #1 said. "I knew it!"

It was wrapped exactly how you would expect an abandoned drug package to be  wrapped -- a tight and water resistant cover with no identifiable markings.   The first mate leaned down, snatched it up, and immediately shoved it in a compartment in the back of the boat. I pictured it being dumped into the Gulf Of Mexico as the DEA was on the drug-runners tail.

I didn't think much of it other than "wow, that's a pretty neat story"  but did think  it odd that the first mate was so nonchalant about scooping it up with no interest in seeing what was in it.

Fast forward back at the dock when the trip was over.  No one seemed particularly curious about the package but I mentioned it to Guy #1. We thought we'd at least take a closer look so we walked to the back of the boat, he opened the tight container top, and I reached in and grabbed the package for a closer examination.  I didn't pull it all the way out but did lift it up enough so that the sun would hit it. Two things: I could barely see underneath the airtight wrapping and it kind of -- just kind of -- looked like money.  I wasn't sure because the first mate let me know in no uncertain terms (even in Spanish) that I didn't need to be touching that package once he discovered we were monkeying with it. I dropped it. Quickly.


Me reaching in the compartment to take a close look 

The "package" wrapped in brown sitting by a tiny dead fish. Overdosed, we guessed.

Ok, here's where it gets weird. With all couples off the boat while the crew cleaned the lone fish we caught, the rest of the party starts some crazy talk.

Guy #1:  "Man, if that's cocaine, that's a lot of money."

Me: "That's great, but I'm not walking around with a package of cocaine. I've seen Midnight Express."

Guy #2: "It may be worth a quarter of a million dollars."

Mrs. LL:  "(Longingly) Say that number again."

Me: "So what? Even if one of you guys was nutty enough to walk into a resort carrying a package of cocaine, what in the heck you think you're going to do with it? Take it to the front desk and exchange it for pesos? And another thing: Those two guys on the boat, I'm guessing, consider it to be their cocaine."

Guy #1: "No. No. No. I'm not talking about taking the cocaine. I'm talking about cutting a deal with them where if they sell it, we get a cut of the money. I mean -- we found it."

Guy #2: "And if we are ever going to cut a deal, we've got to do it right now."

Me: "And what are we bargaining with? I suspect their position is, 'It's our package'.  And you do realize this is Mexico and in Mexico they do chop people's heads off. For all we know they've got pistols on that boat and are part of a cartel."

Guy #1: "These guys aren't part of no [expletive deleted] cartel. They've just got this boat. They're gonna take the dope and sell it, and buy them a bigger boat. A really nice boat. I think we should try to negotiate our cut. It can't hurt to ask."

Guy #2: "And it may just be money. You said it looked like money. Maybe they'll split it with us. It can't hurt to ask."

Mrs. LL: (Who is silent but has been looking at me wild eyed like "think of something, fool!" ever since she heard "a quarter of a million dollars.")

Now, in all honesty, the conversation wasn't exactly like above but pretty dang close. I stuttered a lot more and kept looking at the shore for cops and then back at the boat and then back at Mrs. LL.

But here's where it gets wilder. Guy #1 manages to get an audience with the captain. I don't know what they were quietly discussing all by themselves, but I was officially out of whatever plan they are coming up with. I've got moral, legal, and ethical issues to deal with which wasn't exactly what I wanted to do on my vacation and, like I said, I really didn't want my head chopped off. Not to mention Mrs. LL's head.

Then Guy #1 announces that "we" and the captain were going to take the boat out to "the reef" (about a 1/2 mile away) and open up the package. That way, he says, at least we'll know what we're dealing with. I have no idea why the captain would agree to do this, but I know one thing. I'm not going. No way. Guy #2, however, is "in" and explains to his wife standing beside him on the dock why he is about to go out to sea with strangers to open a strange package. He can't get all the plan out of his mouth, however, because she pretty much is telling him that he has lost his freakin' mind.  Before she can officially pull out the Wife Card and tell him that no, he's not going, the boat shockingly pulls away from the dock with Guy #1 still in it! He's waving, but this was a heck of a surprise.

I can't begin to tell you what a wild visual scene that was. One of our fishing party is going out to the reef (presumably) to open up a drug package.  As the boat pulled away, we all looked at him in stunned silence like he was headed off to Death Row. He's still smiling like "it ain't no big thang." So picture that boat headed out to sea, getting smaller and smaller, as we squint to try and keep an eye on Guy #1 (who had on a bright shirt on). I was half expecting that shirt, with him in it, to be thrown overboard at any minute.

Mrs. LL, fearing foul play was afoot, snapped a picture of the boat's ID before
it took off to the reef.  (It's edited in case it actually belongs to a cartel.)

After about 10 minutes, however, they all came back. He hops out, we divvy up the tip money for the crew for the fishing trip, and the boat takes off.

"So what was it?" we all ask Guy #1.

"Marijuana. Nasty marijuana. That sea water had gotten to it. I let 'em keep it."

And they, apparently, let him live.