And I was going home, American The Beautiful, one last time before I would disappear among the lush rainforest, rugged mountains, an endless ocean of clear water sandwiched between the Caribbean above and the Pacific below, squeezed on the east by Costa Rica and on the west by Colombia. First I had to go to my house on St. Charlotte Drive in Tampa to wipe the computer clean, eliminate files and give the green-light for one last importation. I was seventy-two hours from launching a one-million-pound “Gold Bud” pot importation on a tug and barge, the “Master Blaster” from Colombia to a one-thousand acre turkey farm on the Missouri River. Also in-place were plans to import another four-hundred thousand pounds of “jungle pot” to be loaded in twenty steel containers, placed onto a containerized cargo ship, named “CariCargo,” and moved as plantains and bananas from Turbo, Colombia to a New York City commercial port.
Then I would be free at last. Thank God almighty, free at last.
I rode in the back of a bullet-proof limousine, me with the no guns, no violence motto I’d followed from Day I. I left my gorgeous, Spanish-style manor for the last time. Altos Del Golf, next to the largest Panamanian park Parque Omar and nestled in the province of San Francisco, buffered the elite from the surrounding urban sprawl of Panama City, buffered me from the begging kids on the street corners, knowing I could have been one of them had I not had the brains and fortitude to tough out what’s dealt. I lived a few minutes from the banking district and another ten to fifteen from the airport and close to the country’s El Presidente General Manuel Noriega. Some people have to worry how much minimum wage will cover. I had enough money to turn my back on eternity—at least I thought I did.
We hit the city. The limo merged eastbound onto Avenida Domingo Diaz or Pan-Am Hwy 1 while I tried to review notes in the back when the brakes locked up. The limo jerked to a stop within the maze of honking cars, big rigs, and buses pinned together as if escape even existed.
I couldn’t help but jump. Paranoia slams like a shapeless sack of rocks. No way out of the incomparable sense of fear. I looked in every direction, at the eyeless beggar who crept between the stopped cars, smearing his dirty fingers down any closed window he could feel, at the businessman climbing out of his Mercedes, at the disgruntled trucker with a large load of produce, anyone who might be watching. Could be DEA. They’d been swarming the American Embassy in Panama since the Darien cocaine factory raid a few months before. When DEA shut down the Colombian factory complex seizing 13.8 tons of cocaine and documenting twenty-seven tons manufactured in the previous seven months, Medellin narcotraffickers Carlos Rivas, Jorge Ochoa and Pablo Escobar had to move their operations. I was clueless about the new lab until Ochoa called me, and I had seventy-two hours to orchestrate the release of top Colombian hostages and negotiate a peace treaty between Panama and Colombia or Noriega and I would be dead.
At this moment, seventy-two hours seemed to be the golden number to end this insanity, my lucky seven to beat the house. But I had to stop thinking even when thinking hits like an odorless gas overwhelming the next breath. I’d been a paperboy. I’d run a gas station, told in three months of working at Jack In the Box, I could manage a whole franchise. That’s when I quit, and I ran, and I ran from a past falling dark and almost forgettable. Almost.
And I was still running.
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE LARGEST DRUG SMUGGLING RING EVER DISCOVERED IN THE UNITED STATES...... COMING 2017-2018 the non-fiction crime epic about one of the most compelling stories in the twentieth century "The Last Gentleman Smuggler" by former Texans Steven M. Kalish, one of the largest pot smugglers and money-laundering masters in US history, and Nikki Palomino, award-winning author/filmmaker DAZED Novel Trilogy, rock journalist, former grunge rock musician/radio personality. The book/film/TV series "The Last Gentleman Smuggler" will be a thrill-ride about the rogue American white boy who at fifteen dropped out of a Houston High School to enter the US War on Drugs laundering money equaled to the drug kingpins. Unforgettable!!!!!!
“I have been involved in marijuana smuggling for most of my adult life....I am Steven Michael Kalish, convicted narcotics smuggler.”
Photos Corbis, j.watson garman Jason Herring
July 25, 1984 Steven Kalish stands at the absolute pinnacle of his career just one day before his arrest in Tampa, Florida as Frank Brown money-laundering CEO for Panama’s BCCI bank, and seventy-two hours from launching a one-million-pound pot importation from Colombia to a turkey farm on the Missouri River. Also in-place are plans to import another four-hundred thousand pounds to be loaded in twenty steel containers, placed onto a containerized cargo ship, and moved from Turbo, Colombia to New York City. A fifteen-year-old Houston, Texas high school drop-out, the rogue American white boy heads straight to the top of International drug smuggling at a time when the U.S. War on Drugs digs its claws into the obscene flow of illegal profits. Kalish wants to stop the insane thrill-ride for which few men leave alive. The difference between other smugglers and Kalish is his intelligence and ability to negotiate, his honor and motto No guns; No violence. What begins as a belief in the legality of an innocuous plant spirals him into the web of cartels, dictators and an endless stream of money. His fifteen-year outlaw lifestyle forces this successful smuggler to question the cost. But unbeknownst to Kalish, the DEA, the FBI, Custom Agents and local law enforcement, the U.S. government has other plans for the last gentleman.https://www.facebook.com/groups/1100845919933061/
Pablo Escobar of Medellin Cartel
Steven Kalish Senate hearings
Leigh Ritch one of
three smuggling partners
j.watson garman protest 1968
Money after counted by Vegas machines
Janis Joplin, sign of times
Nikki Palomino, co-author,
The Last Gentleman Smuggler cover