One80 Podcast Episode 27
Air Date: October 25, 2022
Jorge Valdes, Drug Lord to Lord of All
This transcript may have errors that do not reflect the audio found in the show.
I’m like, look, thank you so much for being so generous, but really is this what you wanna do? I mean, I’m handling your money. You don’t want me handling your money, handling your drugs. And, uh, they will say nothing. I said, plus I don’t know anything. I’m 21 years old guys. Yeah, yeah, yeah
American dream to America’s nightmare. That’s who Jorge Valdez had become. Raised in Cuba, Jorge made a name for himself in the US as one of the top drug lords in the seventies and the eighties.
The man who could buy presidents at dignitaries was brought to his knees by a simple man with a different sword. The word of God, a simple man who was literally face to face with one of the country’s most powerful men with a bold challenge. “Man, what I’ve got to give you, you have no money to pay.”
Freedom was about to come his way. Welcome to Jorge’s 180
Jorge Thank you so much for being on the show.
Thank you. It’s my pleasure to be here with you.
Yeah, I, I mean, this is an incredible story and I mean, just to have this opportunity to hear about your life, uh, really honored. So, um, let’s get rolling cuz I know there’s a lot to get into.
Um, but we like to start off with a random question if that’s okay. Sure. Okay. So if you were traveling back, to the, the year 1850. Okay. And you could take with you one invention or product from the modern era. What would you take with you?
One invention. Yeah.
I’d probably be thankful that we don’t have media that have. I mean Facebook all those things. uh, they have, were intended to good.I mean, they’ve brought. Farther away, close but close friends away and, uh, you know, it’d well, probably my Corvette, you know?
Yeah. well, I love Corvette. I love I’m a car guy, but I mean a big Corvette Corvette guy American made. Yes, that’s right. I’m sure that would turn heads back in the 1850s. They would be pretty impressed by that. I think they’d be pretty cool. awesome. Well, let’s jump into your story. And would you just, uh, talk to our listeners about where you grew up?
So grew up in, in a town outside of Havana, Cuba, Santiago Las Vegas.
lived there till I was years old. And what it was, was a time when, Fidel had already been right. for seven years mm-hmm . And when were in school.
I remember Cuba in school, they have what they call a pioneers, which is like, probably not pretty much what we would think of as like the boy Scouts mm-hmm but there were an integral part of your education.
But Fidel was genius about, was that when a child turned 12 years of age, uh, what he would do is So he would take away from your parents send you to Miami.
So in school, we were starting to be taught the communist manifesto Right. And, uh, the communist ideal, right? Right. God doesn’t exist. God is only something for, uh, people to find meaning mm-hmm blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Uh, to control the masses. I would go home and I had a mother was four 11, extremely Catholic and she would say Fidel’s full of crap. God is everything in her house. I mean, in Cuba, every neighborhood, the center of the community was a church. So wherever you went in that community to visit anyone, the place you had to go through was the church. Yeah. The four yard of the church, as you see in a lot Mexican or even, Latin American American country.
So God was everything at home. Yeah. But in school, God was nothing. Yeah. Yeah. My mother is, I’m not gonna have any of this. Now. The reason Fidel broke up the family was. I would come home from school and tell my mom and my mom would tell me that Phil’s full of crap, but I didn’t go tell the teacher fi Hey, my mom’s said Fidel full of it.
But if I was living with strangers and I would go ahead and say something like that, it was 10 years old. Oh wow. So broke up that family. So by 12 had to get outta Cuba, your kids, otherwise, you know, it would be impossible. So my mother, uh, you know, who her father was one of the most important figures in Cuban history, uh, uh, liberation of Cuba from Spain, she was an amazing woman.
She spoke perfect English. was one of four women graduate university of Havana wow. So my mother didn’t care nothing about, and I mean, because she came from such a strong political family, I mean, not political, but very influence family.
Yeah. She was very, uh, opinionated. I said that, uh, thank God that God made her four 11 . He made her five, two Osama had on my phone. so my father was different. My father was your typical Catholic man back then, men immense integrity, a man that uh, he would not go to church.
He would go to church to drop us off.
And, uh, he was simply like, Hey, my face is private. all I ask God is to bless my family. That’s all he care about. That’s what he would say as far as religion. Yeah, but my mom was different. My mom was, I mean, we were in church literally every day. Mm-hmm so all of a sudden, she decides we’re leaving now, when you’re leaving Cuba, you’re leaving everything behind mm-hmm and all you can leave is literally with your underwear, a pair of pants, one belt, one pair of socks, the whatever you are wearing that moment.
That’s all you could take. Wow. And I remember being woke up the morning at about four 30 and like, let’s go, we’re leaving. know. What we going? we were going on vacation because we went a lot of vacations we were very, my parents were wealthy.
She’s like, just get dressed and let’s go watch your mom, let me pack something.
And she’s like, no, get dressed. went, wow. And I remember I was sort of like a, a zombie going the airport had no clue what was going on. And you, and you’re 10 is this 10 years old about, yeah, this is October of 1966.
Okay. I was 10 old, five months. So, but we get to the airport. That’s what she tell we’re going to Miami mm-hmm
suddenly as we are about to leave as we were the last family, because Valdez, the last name, she comes crying and my father’s like, I’m not going, She grabbed my hand and my brother and my sister. And she said, take him to Miami. I’ll see you and let oh my gosh, the world just died that moment. My father was like, if you don’t go, I’m not gonna go. He never wanted to leave begin with.
But as he saw us climbing into the airplane, going to a tarmac, he came, he came with us and we came to Miami and we went from living a house that was one square block with cars, television, everything to 11 of us living in a one bedroom apartment riding down what time we were gonna peak.
Cause there was only one bathroom. Oh my gosh, sleep on the floor. Wow. Wow. And I look at my life as three cataclysmic moments and that was number one. That was the moment that I said to myself, you know what Castro was? Right. My mom is full of crap. There ain’t. No, God, wow. Yeah.
We’re coming to be with God.
Where is he? Yeah. You know, we were with Castro’s God Cuba, but we had food. got everything. Now we have nothing and she’s not even here, which she was the center of our home. Yeah. my father was just man of immense integrity and would not take a handout the government. We had no food, all we would have is a glass of powder milk that the refuge you get from the refugee department real cheap, you had to buy it.
it didn’t mix. It was just like drinking sand water, and uh, two row eggs. And that’s all we had till dinnertime. Oh my gosh. Wow. And dinnertime, we had rice and beans. That’s it? Mm-hmm . I remember, uh, a friend of mine that he, uh, he brought a lunch, and I’m man, that to me was like a prime rib.
I, it was like a big old stamp. And I asked him, I said, Hey, how do you parents get your sandwich?
He’s like, well, we get foodstamps like what he said. Yeah. We get these little coupons and I’m like, really? say yeah,
We buy food with that. The government gives it to you. You don’t have to pay for it.
So I thought I had discovered Americas. I wanna go tell my father that, Hey, we’re gonna be able to buddy. Cause I found out yeah, something don’t know. Yeah.
I tell my dad and my dad is very stoic and he just nods his head. He’s like,
that’s for poor people.
I’m like, We’re not even poor yet? We gotta climb way outta property somehow? And I said, dad, we’re not poor.
He’s like, no son, we just don’t have any money. Wow. And then he put his finger on me and told me to wake up early and go help your family. I was 10 years old.
I remember I created what I called the American dream.You know, I, I teach, I coach people mindset, you know, because I told you, it doesn’t matter what you look at the world. It just matter what, through what lenses you look at it. I remember my cousin would come like four years earlier. Mm-hmm he came up and he came up in, uh, 1965 Pontiac GTO, convertible candy, apple with a white interior.
Man I live in that car and I’m like, that is it. , that’s what I’m gonna do. Gold. The day I had that car. Yeah. I made it in America until then. Don’t matter. So I’m just gonna bust my butt and I’m gonna do the right way. And, uh, so I became the youngest employee in the federal reserve bank at the H two 17.And I worked full-time and I went to university of Miami and I never did any drugs. Uh, all the alcohol I had drank in my life by the age of 21 fit in a little teacup.
I never even had a girlfriend before.
Yeah. Cause I had no time in my life. Right, right. , didn’t drink, didn’t do drugs, nothing. I was like laser focused, you know, I’m gonna graduate. I’m gonna take two years off, get enough money to go to law school because back then there was no student loan. And then I’m gonna go to law school by 30, I’m gonna be a millionaire and gonna be somebody.
Don’t talk to me about God. Don’t talk to me about any of this, because it doesn’t mean nothing to me. Hmm. I did it that way until a friend of my first accounting professor.
He had just moved from, uh, Michigan to Miami. and he’s like, uh, Hey, I don’t speak Spanish. If you handle my Spanish clients, I’ll get a secretary office, everything you want. Wow. And you can be on your own you know, because you all do know that Spanish is the language of heaven?
Mm-hmm . So if you really wanna talk to Jesus, mm-hmm, learn Spanish.
And this, this is while you’re at the federal reserve, is that right? Okay. I’m at the federal reserve. I had an entrepreneurial spirit, to help feed my family, I delivered a newspaper. I washed cars, I cut grass.
I did whatever I had to to be able to make it so that whatever little money we came, we besides rice and beans, maybe we could get a piece of steak and divide it among four yeah. On the weekends. Yeah, and that’s how I did it until that first client. Wow. Now in this time period, so you, you know, you leave Cuba, you’re now in little Havana, your perspective of God, you kind of are just like, okay, this God is not, he’s not, he’s not there.
He’s not real. And that’s kind of where you were. Yeah. I mean, the conflict that was inside my mind between Castro’s teaching and my mother’s teaching, the minute we came to Miami and we laid in the floor and she stayed behind Castro one. Yeah. You know, and that’s it.
But the interesting thing is even, you know, cause I was an atheist for a long, long time. You know, I, I really wonder I’m gonna try this in you. I want to edit that out. but I really wonder if my conversion would’ve been today in today’s world with today’s Christian environment, if I would’ve ever become a Christian. Hmm. I really would wonder that.
Hmm. You know, we are the only Bible somebody ever will ever see.
And today I, so as a we are pretty bad witness. I’m not saying, oh, and I thank God for what you’re doing. Yeah. And I, and I love all those young people here. Yeah. Cause you’re the future of it. Yeah. You’re fighting a big wave. Yeah. And the good news is at the end, Jesus will always win. Yes. Amen. I stand upon that, but it, but it is.
Yeah, because now I’m going to university in, in the sixties. Right. Mm-hmm . And think about this. This is the time that Carl Marx on communist manifesto, you know, Das Captial. So every Hispanic in the world \
We wanna be a communist. Yeah, because we looked at communist as an ideal, right? Everybody’s gonna be equal. Everything’s gonna be fine. Society’s fair. We know that it, it doesn’t exist. , but it was but because
I was not a Christian, didn’t never wanna be a Christian. didn’t believe in anything. Mm-hmm
I was a person of immense integrity and, uh, and in reality, most of the people I knew that were of no faith had tremendous integrity.
Yeah. I remember my father over and over and over again. And we, my brother and I would get so mad. We said like a broken record son in life. You have no control, whether you’re rich or poor. I’m like, nah, I could figure that out. Whether you are sick or healthy, no control, whether you’re dead or life, you only have one thing.
One thing. Absolutely. You have total control and that’s your word, because of that, I laid in the floor of a ment in jail being beat to death cuz I won’t break my word. Yeah.
See people today, they call themselves lie left and right. and it’s sad. Yeah. It is sad. Yeah. It’s sad because our young are hungry for meaning our young people are hungry become, to find, but the thing about it,
I love Andy Stanley. was part of started one in Atlanta. it’s the greatest preacher in America today. And he says something that is really very powerful. He said, look, so many young living the church is not because they don’t know the Bible because they know the Bible. They just don’t see that those people in church actually believe what they read. Yeah, it’s a, yeah. I mean, yeah, absolutely.
I mean, it’s something that, uh, I think that you’re, you’ve got a really good point here, you know, about that. But if we could go, could you talk to us about the Lata, uh, Dell soul grocery store? Uh, because this is where your, your first Spanish speaking client, right? Yeah. Um, talk to us about what happened, cuz that was a pretty life changing little store there for you.
Yeah. See, this is why deviate, whether you Reade the book or not
So that, that first client that my professor asked me to do for him mm-hmm was a little grocery store. Mm-hmm , if you Go to Miami, there’s shopping center, little store, you know, probably about 15, 15 feet wide. Maybe 40 feet deep. And, uh, and I went there and I had to go, so I’m making like almost $4 an hour back then. This is 1976, almost $4 an hour. I think the minimum wage was like a dollar 50, a dollar 80 something.
So I’m like making a lot of money, but I’m dead broke. Yeah. Yeah. Because half of my paycheck went to my parents and the other half I had to pay all my expenses. Wow. And, uh, and now they’re gonna pay me a thousand dollars a month to go there four months a month for about a couple hours every day, and get ’em organized.
And I thought, wow, I was gonna be rich. Yeah. So I went there the first, uh, Monday and I never forget, I go to the back and they had this paper bag, like you get at the grocery stores and it had like $135,000. Oh gosh, right. That’s normal. And I looked at it and, uh, but the thing about it was I was so innocent about any of that.
Yeah. That. I didn’t even think nothing about it. No idea. Yeah. You know, like I’m like, wow, man, how can this grow?
And I start thinking, well, maybe they just haven’t deposited in a long time. I don’t know. anyway, did the books took the money, made a deposit, went to a bank and deposit it.
Nothing said nothing, no harm, no thought. Right. The next Monday I go and there’s about 70 some $80,000. Oh my gosh. Now I start to wonder, are they making so much money? So I remember looking at this can of Campbell suit. Yeah. And it was dusty. So I got it. And I,
And I put a V on top with the dust for Valdez and I put it in the desk and I left it there, took the money. Did the deposit went back the third week, same amount of money over a hundred dollars. Now I gotta find out really what’s going on. again, no thinking that there’s no drugs or nothing illegal or nothing.
So I called him over and I’m like, uh, his name was Alba. I said, look, let me give you a basic, uh, accounting formula. You buy this can. And I got the can for a dollar and you sell it for $3 and you have $2 profit. follow me. Mm-hmm
I said, the thing is the last three weeks, I’ve deposited over $300,000 worth of so-called sales, but we’ve only bought about $1800 worth of product.something’s not matching up. I know there’s not that much of a markup in the Ken soup. And, uh, he just nonchalant looked at me and said, oh no, we’re drug dealers. We, we just, this is just to hang out to have fun.
so now think about a kid that used to pride himself. I worked for the government, you know, I, don’t, if I went to, if I ever went any place and there was any marijuana, which back then was nothing
I would leave, no, I’m a federal employee. I can’t do that. I didn’t have a traffic ticket.
You know, all of that stuff sudden I find out I’m working for drug dealers. Well, I said to myself very quick. I mean, it shocked me. It shocked me for about, I think about. Maybe 25 seconds because I said, Hey, I’m an accountant.
You know, I’m trained to count money. There’s no money laundering laws. There’s none of that. And, uh, I don’t care what people do with their lives. And was fine with it. So he looked at me and says, since you work for the government, right? I said, he said, yeah, he says, uh, you know how to open foreign bank account.
And it just happened that we knew because of a case, the federal store bank audited, where they busted these banks that, uh, you know, they had three banks, one that came in and they were, uh, every time one note came due, they, they make another note from the other bank anyway, big, old scam. They all got busted. And, uh, I said, sure. And I knew that it was about 1100 bucks to open a foreign bank account.
And he asked me like, how much?
I said $10,000. I mean, I just threw a number. Like, I didn’t even know where this conversation was going. Didn’t think it was going nowhere. Didn’t really care. It’s just like. We’re talking about the weather.
Yeah. What kind of car you like? Yellow? I don’t know. So he’s like, well, can you open three now? I’m like He said, yeah, we have currency restrictions in Columbia and we wanna protect our money. So we need you to open three accounts for
Wow. I’m like, So I went and, uh, and open those three accounts. And then from there on, I started opening accounts for them all over Lichtenstein, Tortolla, Switzerland and my life began to change,
So I used to drive a Chevrolet Vega, gray with black vinyl interior. The only air condition was two 40, which means you lower both window hit 40. That’s about all the air condition. That was all the wealth I owned in this world. Yeah.
So what created a second cataclysmic moment? So from there on, I mean, a lot of things began to happen really, really quickly. Like they wanted to open up a banana company and, , he introduces me to the people that were his bosses. Right. , I meet them. They, they were business people. They own a lot of companies. They own airlines, Emeral, mines, coal mines, construction companies.
I mean, this people were business people. It just happened that one of the products they sold was cocaine. You know, recently when they asked me on Netflix, why was it that it was so easy for you to leave? Chapel, Pablo Escobar, Sal, Willie, all those people had as many false passports as you as many airplanes or more than you as much money or much more than you and they couldn’t quit.
And you did. I said, because to me, this was just another product. This is just another company that we had. And when I realized what the danger that it was gonna start, that it was happening now to kids, then it was not who I was and that’s how I walk away. But anyway, we meet the people. They wanted to open up a, a banana company and buy a shipping company.
They wanted to bring bananas. So I thought later on, I found out that banana was nowhere near their intentions, but of course I did not say I was so naive. I had no clue. I mean, I’m 20 years old now I’m 21. I mean, I got braces glasses. I mean, if you look up a picture of a nerd in addiction, there was my picture.
But I went to a party, I went to a party. So in the meantime, and I’m just fast forward, otherwise, you know, we’ll be here for days and then nobody would buy the
Can I can I, can I clarify something really quick? This is, is this the Medellin drug cartel, right? Is that the, the name of it? Right. Okay.
We’re gonna get to a part.
So what happens is that, uh, I start making money and I go to a party. So needless say, you know, my friends change, right?
No longer are all my dead beat, broke friends. I start now with the people I wanted to be with the people that everybody wanted to be with the Hollywood celebrities, the rich, the famous. And I went to a point. I saw a federal judge that gave people a lot of time, snorting cocaine.
And I said to myself, you know, there was no. When I came from Cuban now there’s no moral.So when these people started to ask me to run all their operations in the United States, I was 22, 1 years old.
I finally give in,
but I’ll tell you how I give in, but talking about Medellin drug cartel.
So it’s a part when I got started, this was the group that eventually will be known as the Meine drug cartel. a name given to us by the federal government,
And then we’ll we’ll name that enemy, the head of that enemy. Pablo Escobar, right. He was the most obnoxious, the loudest, many things besides being the richest, which he was by no means no, the most powerful.
Yeah, he was the most violent and he was just the worst human being that got it, walked this earth. So when they started to ask me, we want you to handle all our operation in the United States. I’m like, I had no idea ,
It’s very complicated. But the cliff note is I came up with this great idea how I’m gonna get rid of these people.
I’m happy opening this foreign bank account. I’m happy opening up banana company one, the president. And I own a percentage of it. So I’m, this is more than I ever dreamed in my life.
I said, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna tell this guys. It was, four of them and I will become the fifth. So I came up with this idea that I’m gonna go up to this guy. Now, this dead broke kid. I’m gonna go up to him and say, you guys want me to handle everything for you? Fine. I want equal partnership and you gotta put up my part of the money because I ain’t got no money at this time. They’re bringing in between 15, a hundred kilos a month.
So in Columbia that time a kilo was $22,000.
So if you think about it a hundred kilos, 22, kilo that’s 2.2 million, Between five guys, you talking about $400,000 a piece 400, man. I mean, I maybe had $400.
I knew that there’s no way they’re going to accept that. Yeah. They’re gonna tell me to turn around. They’re gonna kick me in the rear end.and I’m gonna get a, a kick all the way back to Miami.
So I did, I proposed that to ’em and then I went and I went back to the hotel and they were, they sent the chauffer to pick me up, to take me to Miami.
And the morning they’re like, Hey, Manuel, wants to talk to you. And I’m like, maybe we forgot to talk about something. I’m okay. So I go yeah.
And they looked at me and they’re like, man said, I talked with my partner saying, we agree.
we’ll let you become eco partners and we’ll put up your money until you create enough capital to put up your own capital.
Oh my gosh.
I’m like, Holy cow.
I never seen cocaine in my
you literally just kind of fell into this. I mean, it’s not something you were really neat for. Yeah.
And I’m like, Immediately. I try to back up.
I’m like, look, thank you so much for being so generous, but really is this what you wanna do? I mean, I’m handling your money. You don’t want me handling your money, handling your drugs. And, uh, they will say nothing. I said, plus I don’t know anything. I’m 21 years old
guys. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know oh my gosh, man says,
I believe you got what it takes.
Well, within six months we’re bringing in five, 600 kilos a month and I was making between one and $3 million profit, a.
Needless to say, my life just skyrocketed. I had mansions, I had jets, I had with the cars. I dated the most beautiful women that walked this earth. See, I had to join a cartel three, get a date. And then I did a beautiful woman,
but I was so miserable , I’m 21 years old.
I made between a million, 3 million a month. Now let me put that in perspective for you. That’s 1977 money,
you know, so maybe multiply four or five times. I have jets mention yachts. I date the most beautiful window world, but I wanna die.
I wanna die.
Because, you know, we, we all believe in this pseudo American dream, you know, you have more money, you have cars, you have extra houses, uh, then you, you reach the American dream. But the truth of the idea, the real American dream was the American dream of what I call the greatest generation, the world Wari generation, right?
They, they worked other lives. They had marriage problem, but the world was not an option. They’d rather be an hour early than a minute late. they, uh, their word was their bond. They hated the war, but to serve was an honor
they worked other lives, educated, their children, retired. Many didn’t take a vacation and they were happy.
Yeah, they were fulfilled. Yeah. Yeah.
Well, I wasn’t happy making that kind of money and but it really wasn’t even looking back. It wasn’t even about the money.
It was about that next drill. I think I, I, it was more of a,, agony of victory in the thrill of defeat.
The big payoff is in getting caught. The big payoff is in losing. And, uh, I worked out a deal with the government of Bolivia. uh, if you saw the movies, Scarface, the guy that killed Tony Montana, who many people think was still real. And, uh, he was my partner in Bolivia, Robert UAEs and, uh, instead of making one to 3 million, we’re gonna make it like 7 million a month.
Oh my gosh.
So we worked out this deal. We went to get it, things went array. I crashed in the, I got on an airplane, which I never did, but because back then, you just don’t catch a flight from in Latin America
You know? So I had a meeting with samosa, the president of Nicaragua that I had to get to. I got on the airplane cuz I thought nothing could happen to me. I remember telling Manny that I’m going to go do this. And he’s like, you you’re mine. You make more money than, than, than anyone can ever dream of.
And yet why take a risk? Why do something? What we doing is like automatic. I mean, at the end there, we’re bringing in seven, 800 kilos every month, right through Miami international airport with custom agents.
So, you know, we had every level of the government. I tell people there was , three people I couldn’t bribe.
I was never able to bribe a DEA, FBI or a federal judge. Now I tried, I tried like crazy trust me.
All the way to the white house politicians. I have very little very little steam for them.
And today even worse, but, uh, we crashed and, uh, when I crashed the attorney general came to see me and he’s like, , look, don’t waste my time.
How much money to get out $250,000 for your leave.
I had people stationed different parts of the world with a million dollars that their only job was to wait for a phone call with a code to deliver X amount of money to get somebody else out of a jam in a big, big In a big event.
So I tell them, I said, call this number and say these words and you have your money here the next day. And they did. So I went back and told the pilot. To data, a look, everything is cool. I just Bri the attorney general, we’re getting ready. They’re gonna take us to Panama.
They’re gonna rough us up a little bit to make it look good in front of the DEA,
but don’t worry.
We’re on our way to Costa Rica, I had just spent a million dollars getting the president Costa Rica elected. so we went to Panama city and they lined us up in a big conference room about this wide but longer.
They had just busted us with 200 kilos of cocaine. So the pilots broke weak, said that, Hey, not only is George not. A cattle owner. Like we have pretended we’re looking for cattle farm. We landed, didn’t know what was in the airplane. Right. And, uh, anyway, he’s the biggest drug dealer in America. So they took us in a dungeon for 20, some odd days.
They torture us day and night to the point I bled every time I took a, a pee for five years.
Oh my gosh. And, uh, it’s horrible.
but you know, what, and what was thing about it? It was, physical punishment doesn’t really do any good because after a while it doesn’t hurt anymore.
Right. And, uh, but I kept looking at this guy across the bar, there was only one guy and this place looked literally like miss. Uh, the prison was there from the 18 hundreds. He had been condemned for 50 years and he was a dungeon, no toilet, no nothing. And, uh, they would come in two, three times a day and beat us.
but I kept looking at this guy across the bars saying he kept like licking the bars. Come to find out I’ve been there six months, lost his mind. And I looked at Harold, this guy that was with me and I’m like, we gotta get these people to kill us.
They’re not gonna let us go.
not gonna break. I don’t want my parents or anybody taking care of me because I’m sitting in a wheelchair
so let’s just get him to kill us.
So we come up with this plan to threaten Noriega and tell him that, uh, tell the God before they came in, listen, tell Noriega that he needs to kill us, because if he doesn’t kill me, he knows that we got the power that whenever I get out, we’re gonna kill him.
And then, uh, we knew that that was it. There was just no way that he would not. Take that lightly, but he came over the next day and he was like laughing. And like, man, this guy’s sadistic. You know, he’s like us.
And he’s laughing first.
Yeah. And all he Had to us is like, why are you mad at me? I didn’t tell on you. It was your pilots. And number two, he says, you brought the wrong guy. So I’m like how much? He’s like two 50
I’m like, , I just paid two 50 for four. And I went two 50 for two. Is this like a one for all pricing here?
We did. We paid it.
He ended up, yeah, taking us to the airport two days later. And then we’re waiting to go to Costa Rica. And then Interpol came and, and got us, picked us up like a sack of potato, took us to Miami. And in Miami I was charged with heading the largest drug conspiracy in the history of America.
I was. A bond. They proposed a bond of 7 million in 1979, which I had just turned 23 years old. Wow. I didn’t have a traffic ticket. I didn’t have anything. Yeah.
If I could just go back, I do have a couple questions leading up to this point.
If we could actually just go back to the grocery store just for a moment. And when you first discovered that this place was a major drug cartel, why’d you decide to stay?
Well, it wasn’t a major drug cartel, you know like you gotta transport yourself back to 1976.
Okay. Cocaine drug cartel. Did that exist and cocaine? I mean, the biggest problem in Miami in the United States was marijuana mm-hmm, heroin north and the rest was marijuana.
So it was, there was no violence. Like it started shortly after I went to prison.
I mean, everybody admire me, you know? And we talk about that. God complex. But yeah, because it was a different world together. This, this was something for the rich and famous, the movie star celebrities. There was no crack. There was no kids, there was no violent. So when I find out, they tell me that they’re drug dealers, I’m not gonna sell drugs.
I’m an accountant.
Yeah. So that, so that particular piece did not necessarily affect your conscience at that point.
but, but the interesting thing about it, here’s the thing. So what was my conscience? That’s a good question. What was my conscience? So there’s a big difference between what we think is morality and what we think is your religious conscious as to my conscious was I don’t lie.
I help everyone. I can, I’m a amen word and I’ll die for my word. That was my conscience. God didn’t play no role at all. Would not play no role for many, many years, you know, because what God,
where is God mm-hmm
you know, know, all the teachings I got in school really became the foundation of how I started to see the world.
I don’t hurt anyone don’t hurt anyone innocent help it when you can, you know, so people in the cartel in that group, nobody used cocaine,
No one, I mean, it was a stigma. , you know, it wasn’t until the violence came on and then things started to change and then crack went on and, and families got devastated.
So that whole world changed.
But in 1976, actually, if people found out that I was a drug Lord, they were like happy.
I mean, think about it. We’re making million, we’re doing 75 million a month in 1977. The, uh, federal reserve bank in Miami has more cash than all of ’em combined. You know, we’re building left and right, this sleepy town is becoming, you know what it is today. it was just a different, very, very fast, uh, actually.
Cocaine was looked upon as something very glamorous And at that time you could buy pharmaceutical cocaine from Mer shark Andone,dentists would, uh, have access to it. And then of course our greatest drink Coca-Cola right. They said that. So it was just very, very different. ,
I wanna make sure we get this caught. It was 95. They said approximately 95% of the cocaine that was in the United States was brought through.
No, it was actually 94.6.
Yeah. I think that we’re bringing 95% of all the cocaine. that came into America. Well, if you saw the. Cocaine in cowboy Kings of Miami. The first episode, there was the first major drug operation. Miami was operation video Canary, right. They arrested 130 people. They were all selling grams announces at discos.
Right. I was bringing in six, 700 kilo for two years already. And VA didn’t know my name. The government had no idea who I was or who we were,
yeah, that’s man, this is a lot to, to, to process, um, And so I do have a question actually more so for my personal interest, talk to me about the Cougar.
Who, why do you need a Cougar?
You know, and I got my Cougar before Tony Montana hit his,
I Had a big ranch and I just thought it was nice and exciting to have I mean, why not? Why I give him a biblical
Yeah. oh my gosh. But uh, I ended up buying him from, uh, a wildlife officer
Yeah. Then I don’t know how much the 20 fees. I, I spent to be able to get a license.
Yeah. To be able to get him. I just thought it was just cool.
Yeah. Yeah. Well, and the budget that you had to buy off people, presidents, judges, politicians, can you talk to us a little bit? I mean, it is dollars a month, a million dollars a month,
And it wasn’t a budget. That’s roughly what it worked out. It could have been 500,001 month a million plus is just whatever we, anybody that had anything, I paid anybody that I felt at one given point later on or at any time yeah. Could benefit us. Yeah. We paid them. Mm-hmm
so state judges, how get ’em all elected, you know, uh, presidents and country, people that worked the radar sheriffs,
we bought many, many sheriffs, you know, uh, attorneys, uh, just everybody you can ever imagine. Political figures, a dime doesn’t
billion dollars to become president of the United States. Think about it. Ain’t $20 donations.
Yeah. Uh, I, I went back. So this, this is a part that we, so the, my first prison, uh, time was a blast. I mean, I really did. I had fun in prison. I made a lot, the same amount of money spent half as much. I had a girlfriend
Oh my gosh, Yeah.
Uh, then I get transferred to, uh, England air force base, I get sent out to a base and for two years I went in and outta the base, literally like I, they used to salute me, like if I was part of the generals, I Bri
I bribe. I was really nice to the wife of a general.
And then I told her we were having problems getting in for visits early in the morning, because you had to line up and all that. So she gave me a pass. I bought a brand new van and I had this girl who then became my wife. Come pick me up every day, I bought a house right outside the basement. I went home every day
Mm-hmm for two years. Hmm.
until I got released. And when I got released, I went back to the same thing. I didn’t have to, I was a multimillionaire and it, I, and I looked back as to why, because I didn’t even like what I was doing.
Right. Royal had drastically but it was more of like, listen, you didn’t get me. Right. You know, you set up because when I get arrested in Panama, there’s no drugs.
Right. RGA sold them. They take my case in front of the Southern district, the middle district and Northern district of Florida, none of ’em would indict me cuz there was nothing to indict me. Right. Then they take me to mobile Alabama, which I had not gonna be making Georgia, which I never been in my life.
And they said that I was partners with the guy that I got arrested with and I was the guy supplying his cocaine three years back when I had only met the guy, like literally 30 days before we got arrested. So it was more like I’m gonna get even.
but the world had changed now is when my morality kicked in now is when this is not who I am.
You know, my godfather used to say, if you need to carry a gun to deal with someone, you should deal with them. Mm-hmm
And, uh, now you have to carry guns, bodyguards.
it was very, very different now, 87 versus 1978, 85. I’m sorry. so prior to that, my first stint prior to getting arrested, my mother had no idea what I was.
She thought I was a business maker. We had a lot of business. I travel all over the world. Now she knew,
and my mother was the, this is the lesson for mothers out there, parents. My mother was the best tough love I ever the ultimate yeah. Manner to be tough. Love my mother. Did not stop one second to tell me, son, what you doing Doesn’t please. God.
So my mother taught me what true north was. She told me where, where was right and where was wrong. And when I deviated like, like many do not like to the level I did,
but I knew where to come back to. Yeah. Wow. That’s really powerful. And
I was very, very miserable.
And now I had a baby girl and, uh, I didn’t like the world. The world when I came outta prison was a lot different than when I went to prison. The people were different.
And uh, now there was crack. Now there was free base you know, I was struggling. I was struggling with, I don’t need the money and I wasn’t doing nothing at this time.
Literally I would make a million dollars a month for either say, send the plane or don’t send the plane. That’s it. And still the payoffs were very, pro high profile figures and, uh, you know, money was nothing because like I remember one time in my office, uh, so I had a sofa that was cat corner, just like, like this.
Right. And then, so the maid comes one day and says, Hey, can you move the sofa so I can dust behind it and says sure. And she moved it. And there was a bag with $750,000 that I had no idea how long I’ve been there, who it belonged to or who dropped it. Wow.
So money was not, really the motivating factor.
It is just that when, when, when you cross, you know, in life, we define lines and I tell people when you cross certain lines that you say you’re never gonna cross, it’s so difficult to come back.
Yeah. You know, listen, no, no junkies starts out by. you know, an ounce of heroin. Right. No alcoholic starts drinking by drinking a gallon his first time. Right? Right. Is that progressive same thing with infidelity, same thing with pornography, with all this.
at the end of the day, like I, I say I’m convinced, I don’t believe there’s a pornography problem in America, a drug problem. I don’t believe any, any of the societal problem that exists are really a problem.
I think the only problem in America and in the world is that we have a, we come into this world with this hole in our chest, this hunger for for purpose, for defining value that we think, and society tells us that it can be filled with those substances, alcohol pornography fidelity. But at the end of the day, to me, I realized it was only Christ that could fill that hole.
It was only he, that could give me meaning, because as I shared to you, when I forfeit over 60 million to the government, it was the first time in my life that I began to find meaning. My life had purpose because, you know,
We all face a mirror in the morning or at night we look at the ceiling and we gotta ask ourself, do we like what we see?
do we really like what we see? Or what is the purpose for our lives? You know, what is my existence? I, I always wonder why I adore my mother. I have my mother in a pedestal, but yet, why did I treat women with such disdain? I didn’t physically or verbally abuse any of ’em, but to me, they were was just a transaction.
I want this from you and you get this from me. And when we finished with this transaction, .
Why mm-hmm when
I adore my mother, mm-hmm when I had such respect for women like I do today, and, uh, you know, it’s, it’s a series of things that when you do cross that line, you just, you just it’s slippery and it just goes, and there’s no stopping very difficult to put the brakes, but.
I guess the main message that I bring and is what the movie that I’m trying to do now and is, you know, why with the producer with Netflix, I turned them down for three years before I agreed to be on the show on that, documentary, because I, I tell people. Listen, every choice we make becomes part of the story of our life.
The question is what type of story we wanna tell, but I believe that the great thing about America and about Christ and faith is that we can redeem ourselves. And, and our story does not have to end the way that it begins, that we can change.
Yeah. You know? Yeah.
can you take us to the night that your daughter came to the ranch?
So prior to her, I remember I had a friend of mine at this time. I was the one of the largest quarter horse breeders in the country. I got into the horses I was already struggling with. I have to do something. Right. Uh, prior to that, this guy that used to breed to my horse, he would come to the ranch and I known him for a long time. He used to be an old pot. He walked away and I would say to him, Hey Laro how was it that you walked away?
uh, he’s like, man, it’s like being pregnant. I’m like, really? He’s like, yeah, you either pregnant or you’re not you either in it or you’re not. And if you’re not in it, you just gotta move away. You gotta on and on. He’d have this whole thing.
Mm-hmm and it always intrigued me because I, I just, you know, I had it, I just really was, but the defining moment was I was part.
In my house with this Hollywood celebrities and my little daughter came, my ex-wife brought her, uh, that night and I told her maid, I said, just keep in her room in the morning. I’ll go have breakfast with her. And, uh, went back to my party. But about two o’clock in the morning by God’s ordinance and, uh, plan, she got outta her room and came to my bedroom. Now I’m gonna tell you why this was almost, I would’ve given anyone a million dollars. If you could get within 20 feet of me, cuz that’s how many bodyguards I had. And because it was at that time, anyone in knows what we’ll do.
86, 87 Miami was considered the most violent city in the world. It was, it was a very, very dangerous time.
So anyway, and she started knocking on the door. Daddy is crystal. I mean, she was very, she’s a baby. You’re old, not even two years old yet.
And. I began to feel so dirty.
I mean like instantly.
And it was like, I had this feeling and here’s the, and, and this is, and things are going through my head now, a million miles an hour. Here’s the only thing in my life. That’s pure. And she’s reaching out to her dad and I can’t open the door because I would contaminate her. I told the woman to get out the room out the window.
And I went into my shower, tried to scrub the Fil. It wouldn’t, I, I, I couldn’t get size. I went into the beds and here’s the guy that the news media used to say, eyes run through my veins. I went underneath my sheets and I was shaking and shivering. And, uh, all of a sudden when I thought that she had gone to bed, I went outside to get water and she was by the floor crying.
And I said, my life will change today.
All I knew is this If I’m going north, I’m gonna go south. If I’m going east, I’m gonna go
west. Yeah. Yeah. And
I’m gonna move out my environment because in Miami I was a king. Yeah.
You know, that’s what they called a series, uh, cooking couple Kings. So Miami. So I was considered the first king. , I had, now I’ve been to prison. I had been tortured, You know, I, I was the guy that’s created the entire drug, cocaine, drug trade in America.
So all of that is I moved outta Miami.
And, uh, so I went to my ranch. My desperation was so enormous that, so I’ll give you this just a minute. The moment that I made that phone call I’m out,
I knew I probably had 30 days to live.
Hey friends, we’ve left you on a cliff hanger, the precipice of Jorge’s life From here on out, listen in two weeks to hear the rest of Jorge’s crazy God story, like the Karate Teacher’s Bold Challenge and Jorge’s coming clean, including a $60 million surrender. Best way to get this show is to follow us on your favorite pod player, so it shows up in your library, or hit the link in the show notes to join our email.
to send off Jorge Valez, part one. We have Aaron Foster, who has compiled a haiku inspired by his story. You can find Aaron’s poetry on Insta at keyhole poems, and of course, as usual, the link is in our show notes.