The MIA Incident

Alternate Title: My Last Time Smuggling Contraband From Colombia

Years ago I wrote about smuggling dope into the States. Dwayne’s comment:

You’re crazy to bring drugs into the US — even if it is small amounts for recreational use.

I never think about consequences. I just think how to make it work.

In May 2011 I had to go to St. Louis for two weddings – one for my brother in which I was the best man and the other for one of my best friends in the world, who scheduled his wedding close to my brother’s specifically so I could be there. I was basically in charge of both bachelor parties, and everybody was screaming bloody murder for Colombian cocaine.

I planned to bring a little, but this time I got paranoid before the trip. I couldn’t see myself bringing coke for years with no end. Eventually I’ll get caught.

I started thinking how exposed I am with this blog, which is only growing in popularity. It’s only a matter of time before I’m targeted by authorities.

On the other hand, I was going back for my brother and one of my best friends on the planet. This occasion would never happen again. I had to do it one more time.

Last time I brought cocaine so rocked up it wouldn’t need a bag. I put it in the pocket of jeans so it’d seem like a piece of detergent. But I wanted the American homies to taste Dopeman purity, and he had none rocked. So I used a bag. I paid for three, and what he gave me weighed four  grams with the bag. I rolled, squeezed, and compressed it as hard as I could for an hour until it was smaller than my pinkie finger. I cut off the excess plastic and wrapped the tiny dedo in plastic wrap.

I put the dedo in the dirtiest, nastiest, crustiest sweat sock I wore playing basketball. I put the sock near the bottom of dirty laundry tied up in a plastic bag.

I got super-paranoid again. I considered not doing it, but then I thought I was going soft. Then I’d think it’s stupid and not worth it. My site’s growing, so somebody must be watching me. Then I’d think, nobody knows about this site and I have two important bachelor parties to provide for. I went back and forth. Finally I went through with it.

I arrived at Bogota’s El Dorado airport three hours early. After handing over the suitcase, the airline girl asked if I was carrying luggage for someone else, if I’d packed my own bags, if I had any medicine, blah blah blah. Then she told me I’d been selected for an extra screening and manual inspection of my bags, maybe canine. Is that OK? I nodded.

I went to my gate and panic overwhelmed me. Extra screening and manual inspection when I got four grams of coke? FUCK!!!

I had a counterfeit $100 bill The Mick had given me. Counterfeit money is common in Latin America and everybody inspects currency, especially dollars, so you couldn’t spend it in Colombia. But in the States it’d be easy to pass it off to a server, bartender, or ghetto fast-food worker. I threw it away in case I was going to jail. One less charge.

I had three hours to simmer and sweat in El Dorado. It occurred to me that I could split. But then I’d miss my flight, and Colombian authorities would probably search my luggage in that circumstance. No, I had to ride this one out. I prayed. I prayed to God and Jesus Christ. I hadn’t prayed in years, maybe a decade. But when I was truly scared I prayed. I promised I’d change. “God, I’ll go to church the next six Sundays and do community service back in Bogota, if You just get the dope through.” I must’ve repeated a million times, “God, get the dope through … God, get the dope through … God, get the dope through.”

I got on the plane in Bogota. Part of me wanted to believe they already searched it before putting it on the plane, but I knew the gringos were going to search it Stateside.

I thought about facing the US customs agent. I tried to remember if I get my luggage before facing him or after? Do I have time to rummage through it? I continued to pray, “God get the dope through, God get the dope through …”

The hardest part of smuggling drugs has to be playing it cool in front of customs. I tried my hardest to keep an even voice, not sweat, etc. Everything was going fine. Then, when the customs agent swiped my passport, he looked up and told me I’d have to step aside and wait in the special line along the wall. FUCK!!!

I decided I was going to jail. My biggest worry wasn’t spending time in jail or getting a drug charge on my record. My biggest worry was the embarrassment in front of the whole family and friends. My buddy’s wedding was all ex-cons and dope peddlers anyway, they’d have a laugh if I weren’t there because I was in jail. But at my brother’s wedding, EVERYBODY would ask where I was and EVERYBODY would know why I was locked up. It would undoubtedly be the biggest fuck-up of my life.

I kept praying to God, promising church and community service.

When the line was about ten deep, they took us off to an immigration screening room. Behind six desks were immigration officers scrutinizing people’s visas, aggressively questioning why they were coming to America and how long they’d stay. On my way into this room, a TSA officer pointed at me and asked the officer if I was in the right line. Unfortunately I was. This immigration room is also the waiting room for manual inspection of passengers’ luggage.

I sized up the room, wondering who I’d be in jail with. I was again the only white guy with a blue passport (hence the officer’s confusion). A lot of black Latinos and other Caribbean types with gold jewelry.

An hour went by and I realized I was going to miss my connecting flight to St. Louis. No matter, I thought, I’m going to jail. But I kept praying, “God get the dope through, God get the dope through…”

When most people’s names were called, they’d go up to the desk and face a firing squad-style interrogation. But when they called me, an officer led me outside the room and to baggage claim. He asked me which of 15 suitcases was mine. I grabbed it and he led me into a separate part of customs, where nobody else was passing. He sat me down in a room enclosed with glass walls (like the old smoking lounges), my suitcase just outside the lounge. The idea crossed my mind to get the dope out, but it was in sight of several TSA agents. I kept praying, “God get the dope through…”

They called me out. I grabbed my suitcase and headed to the stainless steel counter where TSA officials do their manual searches. They told me to put the suitcase and my backpack on the counter. I complied and one of them started firing questions. Why am I in Bogota? What am I coming back for? What do I do for a living? They ask questions fast, trying to make you slip up in a lie or say something stupid. “What do you do for a living” is actually a difficult question for me. Sometimes I say “vendor” or “sales” or “English teacher,” but never “writer.” I told her I was an English teacher learning Spanish in Bogota. My being white, handsome, well-spoken and dressed business casual helped.

She opened the plastic bag and started going through shirt pockets. “Is this your dirty laundry?” she asked, surprised.

“Does it smell that bad?” I replied casually. God, please get the dope through.

She was going through all dress shirt pockets, rolled-up sleeves, and socks. I intentionally left an old workout program on an index card in a pair of gym shorts, which she found and showed me. “Oh, thanks,” I acted surprised.

She set the bag of laundry down and started with everything else. The other agent finished with my backpack. The first agent, having emptied my things onto the stainless steel counter, handed my suitcase to the other agent to X-ray the lining. Afterwards she told me to re-pack and move along.


I’d missed my flight to St. Louis. The airline got me a deal in a Miami hotel. I went outside to catch the shuttle in the hot Miami air. A LOAD OF MY MIND. My nerves had just taken 8 hours of hard stress. As soon as I checked in to the hotel I went to the nearest liquor store and got a fifth of vodka. I drank it in just a couple hours and went to sleep.

I considered dumping the dope at the hotel, since I still had a flight to St. Louis in the morning. I’d have to re-check my luggage, but I wasn’t worried about a domestic flight. I’d gotten over the hump with TSA.

On the flight to STL I thought, How has my life gotten so off-track? I almost went to prison at 18 and turned it all around. I quit drugs and stopped having shady friends. I set an example for the whole family, everyone was proud of the new me. What the fuck has happened? Hanging out with The Mick and deported guys? Using drugs again?

On the MIA-STL flight, I decided it was time to make a change. I’d clean up my act. No more crooks and, more importantly, no more drugs.

When I stepped out of the STL airport to look for my old man, instead I saw my buddies George (my friend getting married) and Mike. My dad had outsourced picking me up at the airport to them, two ex-cons. Mike just got out, it was the first I’d seen him in years. George lit a blunt as I got in the car. And the rap music blared the whole way to his bachelor party. They refused to take me home. The bachelor party started right then.

After telling them the story, Mike asked, “Why didn’t you put it up your ass? It’s not gay to put things up your ass if you’re smuggling shit.” Thanks Mike. I was really worried about being gay.

The bachelor party was four or five dudes drinking at George’s apartment. No girls, no stripper. We snorted half the coke by midnight. My brother showed up, and I gave him the rest for his bachelor party. I told him there’s no way it’ll last through this party, and I don’t want to give him tidbits at his bachelor party of 15 guys. Do with it as you like.

So I was all out of the Colombian cocaine, which I almost got locked up for, in less than 12 hours of landing in St. Louis.

I Need My Head Examined

When I wrote the first article about sneaking dope through, this site was at about 30 visits a day. That’s as close to invisible as a site can be. Back then I wrote as provocative as possible to drive traffic. Now I’m at 300 visits a day, so I need to watch what I say.

It still hurts to think how stupid I was there, and it was almost on display for 90% of my gringo world in St. Louis. It was so stupid I’ve debated whether or not to publish it for a year. I seriously need to have my head examined.

I know a Colombian who got put on that list, unnecessarily as he’s a pure zanahoria – a square. He traveled back and forth often, and was singled out so many times he finally asked why he was getting searched so much. Given I’m on the list, I’m prepared to be manually searched every time now. I need to leave at least three hours for my MIA layovers so I don’t have to stay overnight in Miami. More importantly, I’m never bringing anything suspect, not even a generic Tylenol or pirated DVD.

This occurred two months before The DAS Incident. I don’t think the Colombian authorities had me searched. I believe it was the US embassy in Bogota, but I don’t know for sure. Either way, I can’t be mad. Think of the guy whose job it is to put people on that extra screening list. If he didn’t put me on the list, he wouldn’t have been doing his job. I was asking for it by publishing Smuggling Contraband from Colombia and I need to have my head examined for doing it again after that article.

I can’t blame the embassy gringos or Colombians or whoever had me searched, but I can rant about the failed drug prohibition.

I Owe My Ass to Jesus

I have to pay up to Jesus. I was in church the next six Sundays after the TSA search. I still owe community service.

God is the easiest guy not to pay. When you’re scared you promise the world, but after the fact He’s not going to demand payment. Your credit score doesn’t go down.

It’s easy to rationalize your way out of it. It’s easy to think, “I hid everything really so well, I’m so smart, I’m quick on my feet, I was so cool under pressure. God didn’t get the dope through, I did.”

I ain’t saying any of that shit. I asked for divine intervention, and whether I got it or not, I’m paying up. I’m not going back on my word to God. I went to church the next six Sundays. I used the opportunity to write about two Bogota churches: El Lugar de Su Presencia and Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Lourdes.

This was a sign if I’ve ever gotten one.

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  1. Great piece of fiction. The only plot point I would have tightened up is exactly what happened when TSA-broad was going through your dirty laundry … if she was checking socks, why didn’t she find the coke? Distracted by the index card, bored, or what?

    I mean, it is fiction, right? You wouldn’t post a public confession of (what sounds to me like) a Class B (maybe class A) felony within the statute of limitations, right?

    Good writing, but watch that first-person business. Probably more trouble than it’s worth.


  2. I can’t help but think that too much time among the free-and-easy, essentially reasonable — and occasionally negotiable — sensibilities of Latin American law enforcement has rendered you unfamiliar with the puritan, bureaucratic, psychotic zeal of the Prosecutorus Norteamericanus.

    On the upside, most of them are too square to even be aware that blogs like this exist.

    BTW: Zanahoria? Carrot? Really? Is that a Colombia-wide thing, or just Bogota?


  3. Hunter S. Thompson had some drugs before crossing into the US from Mexico. He wrote “There are two things I’ve never done with drugs- sell them or take them through US Customs.” Being Hunter S. Thompson of course his solution was to take all the drugs first. Still you’ve surpassed HST which is an accomplishment.

    I was expecting the punchline to be you didn’t ever go to church, but I’m glad you did.


  4. Colin you’re one ballsy bastard. You finally wrote it! I remember pushing you to write about this a year ago when you told me about it.
    PS: Twenty, zanahoria is indeed Colombia-wide slang for dull, boring people. You can also use ‘papa sin sal’.


  5. “My being white, handsome, well-spoken and dressed business casual helped.” Come on now, you know only three of those are true.

    You’re lucky you shave your head already, sounds like you would have lost the rest of your hair due to that stress.


  6. Jim – HST is one of my major influences.

    Mark – you told me NOT to write it!

    John – that’s what a bachelor party looks like for a guy with 4 kids by 3 women.

    Rawley – I had to look that saying up. And I’d argue that it wasn’t luck, but divine intervention.

    Brad – HAHA


  7. I am translating the artlcle to Spanish ans will ask the tuba player from Club Lido in Southgate, California to write a narco corrido for you.



  8. Great story. Glad it worked out for you.

    Just to let you know, I finally got searched the last time that I traveled back to the US. Previously, I had traveled in and out of Colombia over 30 times, without much more than a quick question. Well, this last time was different.

    I checked in and gave my baggage up about 2 hours before my flight in Medellin to Miami. I didn’t have anything on me.

    Well, since I was leaving my home, my adopted family (Lucho), and that I had no idea how long I would be gone, I hung-out outside with Lucho and his wife and kids. I finally said ‘good-bye’ at the last minute for boarding my flight.

    Yep, I got called aside. My guess is; is that the dogs must have hit on my suit-cases. Even though I didn’t have anything on me illegal, I had stuff that had contact with perico. For example, my dead laptop had been used months before as a plate to chop and snort coke off of by a few female guests.

    Anyway, I was taken to a special room, and then I was searched. And I was really searched. They went through EVERYTHING in my suitcases. Then, I was asked to strip. I asked – thinking it was cute: “Could the good-looking chick cop cavity search me?” That didn’t get so much as a grin. Anyway, long story short, I made my flight BARELY. They held the flight for me actually, and the door was closed right behind me, and we took off.

    I can’t imagine going through what you did. I had nothing on me, and I was nervous to the point that I was shaking like a dog shitting razor blades.


  9. Colin must be the only person who describes committing serious crimes on the Internet under his own name. Gutsy, or stupid.

    And God does work in strange ways, if he occupies himself with making sure Colin’s dope gets safely thru customs, while not bothering with war, starvation and epidemics.


  10. Douche Rocket,

    I’d appreciate you not spilling private info online, some people’s wives read this!

    In the classic cliche, “what happens on a bachelor party, stay with the bachelor party”


  11. robert – traveling back and forth 30 times is what got you on the list. that’s how the zanahoria i know got on it – traveling to and fro too much.

    antoine – I wouldn’t have realized that! I’ve never once pulled an April fools deal because my mother’s birthday is April 1. It’s a sin you know?

    matthew b – funny, that’s the exact word another ex-con used when we told him the story a few days later.

    Ryan – you’re brother’s a writer. deal with it and grow a pair BEOTCH!


  12. Another person looking at this story might say that you were the only person responsible for not getting arrested. Your own brain focused your attention on your own prior and current actions. Afterwards your own brain made a wise decision to eliminate excessively risky actions in the future. One could also argue that The Father designed your brain and that he teaches people lessons in many different ways. It is possible that Jesus felt inclined to focus the attention of one customs agent on a index card instead of a particular sock (e.g. the Luke Skywalker method). Which is the more plausible answer?'s_razor


  13. I’m glad I started reading comments. I’m giggling uncontrollably. The Wizard (Colin’s brother) has now been pulled into the mix.


  14. Wow… He got you out of what, 24 months in Federal penitentiary and you gave Him SIX FREAKING SUNDAYS!!! Well, I should be honest it’s been a long time since I gave 6 consecutive Sundays so I shouldn’t fuss.

    I’m only joking about it because I know are making some big changes and won’t do anything like that again.

    On a different note, I’m leaving next week on a work trip, I most likely won’t be back by the 28th but will try.


  15. I know that feeling of abject terror, although it was very brief thankfully. I had decided to stash something in the pocket of a winter coat that i had brought with me but of course never used while i was there. Unfortunately i forgot that i had used my jacket as a stash point. I wondered the next day how i could have used up all of that in one night! Thankfully i decided to put my coat on while exiting the plane in Houston and absentmindedly put my hands in my jacket pockets at the same time. Suffice to say some plane cleaner may have had a very good time that day. I can’t believe i was that stupid. Could have made my life very horrible.


  16. Every colombian at the immigration port in USA is scared as shit because there’s always a story of one being deported for no reason, or because some unknown smugler placed the dope inside the luggage. I was stopped once at MIA by a good looking police female, just because I was getting off from a plane coming from Colombia but she was nice (maybe because I was delighted by her questioning).
    I’m too zanahorio and feel scared there in front of the officers… I can’t imagine what you went through. I have one question though… isn’t this writing and acceptance of a felony still punishable by your own government?

    PS. Zanahoria: another word game from Sano: someone that never gets into trouble and Sano: healthy. He’s as Sano as a Zanahoria (also the Sana- and Zana- sounds are identical)


  17. Yeah…taking shit back and forth is pretty ballsy…even without the website. I know plenty of drugs get thru the borders every day. And I’m not afraid to trot off the beaten path. But I’ve seen my share of Locked Up Abroad to know that smuggling shit doesn’t seem to end well for the amateur gringo smuggler. I did 3 months in county…in San Diego…I’m not going back ever again. My carry on backpack gets searched twice thru the xray and usually once again by hand just because of all the loose change in the front pocket. I even had to convince them to let me keep my submarine warfare pin once…it has sharp pointy things like thumb tacks. But I was raised not to do drugs, had a strict father. But I do smoke weed if I’m back home in MD, but Alcohol is my favorite drug and it’s legal. So…I’m good on that end.


  18. Wow! I lived in Colombia in 1998/99 back in my youth and I definitely can relate to the excitement of perico. I have never done it in the states and have been clean for 15 years. Still like to hear stories like yours though.


  19. “I prayed to God and Jesus Christ. I hadn’t prayed in years, maybe a decade. But when I was truly scared I prayed. I promised I’d change”

    Ah! the Usual. Lucky for you, you hit on the one name that really could sail you thru Checkpoint Chokedown.

    Eighteen year olds impressing friends by doing dangerous stuff might well get a pass. Depends on who. Were I you, I think I’d consider myself on House Money and cut loose the desperado smuggler gig permanently. Mebbe next time, he doesn’t have your back, and leaves you inside.



  20. they’re fucking drooling for a bust nowadays. thats why i would never do it. you land in florida now… its 3 checkpoints stateside with dogs everywhere. it takes hours to even get thru TSA. so, nah i wouldnt have the mcnuggets to risk my mcnuggets for some little BS that could be done up in 12 hoirs at a party


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