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One of the saddest parts of my story is re-telling about what happened to my cousin Marty. In 1972, Martin Herbert Bibbero became an early casualty of The War on Drugs when he was arrested at the Mexico City airport with 5 kilos of cocaine concealed in a false-bottom suitcase.

By 1972 I had already been at it (smuggling) for three years having brought in several tons from Mexico by sailboat and was middle-manning loads of pot and hash as well in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the beginning Marty was my main distributor. He was making good money, but became jealous of me and my lifestyle compared to his. However as he became more entrenched in the San Francisco ‘scene’ and as his use of coke increased, his effectiveness as a pot dealer decreased... proportionally and dramatically. That made me very paranoid about being around him, his friends and his daily coke parties. It was truly a recipe for disaster in the making and one in which I wanted no part of.

It was around then that he came up with a jealously motivated cockamamie plan to strike it rich by elevating himself from being a small-time coke dealer to a big-time international smuggler. He had a plan alright... it included partnering with a sleazy local attorney with supposed connections in South America, a brazen and insane scheme to slip past airport customs in Mexico City from Bogata with cocaine concealed in a false bottom suitcase, then transfer the coke to the concealed trunk stash of a VW Karmann-Ghia and then drive it across the US border. He was out of his mind and I tried to warn him...

Marty knew I wanted no part of the cocaine business. In his warped, drug induced mind, he felt my refusal to participate was short sighted, so, feeling a new sense, invincibility, he became convinced he could pull off what he considered to be a bold, foolproof scheme to smuggle cocaine into the United States.

Marty wouldn’t listen and four days later he was off on his South American cocaine smuggling escapade…

… Then, I heard he was getting drunk and loaded down there like there was no tomorrow and partying to beat the band with a host of unsavory locals who would think nothing of setting him up for a reward…

… Three weeks later I got word, Marty had been busted coming through customs into Mexico City on a flight from Bogota, Colombia, with five kilos of cocaine hidden in a false-bottomed suitcase.

Then came the crushing news I received from his other smuggling partner who actually made the successful run…

“It’s weird, Rick. I made it and he didn’t. You know, there’s a moment of truth when you’re at the customs window and ‘the man’ in the booth is holding your passport in his hand and he starts asking you questions looking directly into your eyes: ‘What is the purpose of your visit? Do you have anything to declare? Are you traveling alone? Etc. He might glance at a computer screen, but generally he stares right at you. He’s measuring you. Seeing how you answer his questions. Your body language. Your nervous- ness. Now, in my role as a priest, I was totally into the mind-set and playing the role. I was living it and had the backup paperwork in my bag to prove it. I actually looked like a man of the cloth and mentally I believed it with every fiber of my body. It was the vibe I was giving off. I’m sure of it. I think you understand that. I tell you, when you walk through customs, the rush is incredible. Maybe a part of him was scared because Marty just couldn’t see getting completely into character, doing it all the way. From what I heard, for some stupid reason he wanted to get into the Peruvian party scene and now that dumb bastard is in one of the worst possible places in the whole world, Lecumberri Prison in Mexico City. It’s a true hell on earth. Forget him Rick, he’s as good as dead. He looking at thirty years. He’s gone forever.”

90° to Zamboanga, Section 2, Chapter 13, (excerpts) page 128, 129, 132, 133

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