The outrageous lives and crimes of the most colorful pot smugglers of the Reagan era, and the international manhunt that brought them down.
Their nicknames—Flash, Rolex, Bob the Boss, Willie the Hog, and Disco Don—read like a roster of mobsters. Their destinations for acquiring drugs and depositing money—the Bahamas, Colombia, Jamaica, and Lebanon—were either exotic, white-sand resorts or rugged, war-torn coasts. To some, they were cult heroes and folk legends, intrepid enough to walk away from college degrees and safe careers for danger, sun, sex, and the high seas. The South’s “gentlemen smugglers” followed no rules but their own.
But to the government investigators and prosecutors emboldened by President Ronald Reagan’s War on Drugs, the gentlemen smugglers were Public Enemy No. 1. Through indictments covering just a portion of their alleged misdeeds, the government accused a few dozen men of smuggling 347,000 pounds of marijuana and 130,000 pounds of hashish into the United States.
Speaking to reporters, U.S. Attorney Henry McMaster conceded that “most of it got through, a lot of it’s been smoked.” Still, these outlaws’ days were numbered. No matter their cunning, the gentlemen smugglers would not escape the pioneering task force he had assembled with investigators from five federal agencies: Operation Jackpot.