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Featured Article J24

Featured Article J24 offshore. This happened quite a bit in the ’70s. But this time, when the monkeys saw the cattle getting prodded off the boat? They ran for the masts, the antennae, the highest spots they could reach. They knew what was coming. And Red and his boys knew it couldn’t keep coming in this way. Not only was it inhumane as shit, but how were they going to answer to the dead cattle washing up onshore? This time, after loading up, Red told the other captain not to pull this any more. Back on the beach, Timmy and the guys told their friends about these episodes— at least 150 drowned cows a trip. “Damn,” they said, “Y’all are some saltwater cowboys!” And so Tim Mc- Bride earned his name—The Saltwater Cowboy. How Tim became a pirate lord of pot goes like this. Growing up in North Carolina and then Wisconsin, Tim got a gig on the west coast before making his way down to Florida, where he still lives today. Deeming it “insider Hollywood bootlegging,” he would basically smuggle films to celebrities before their release, thanks to a connection to Sammy Davis, Jr. Not a fan of commercials, Davis would pass off a TVguide to Tim marked up with the shows he wanted to watch so Tim could edit out the commercials. He did this for a couple years, but being a manual Teevo didn’t seea promising career path, so he returned to Wisconsin for a month. An old neighborhood friend Clark had a family connection running the fish house on Chokoloskee Island in Florida and invited Tim to head down there with him, so he packed up and went for it. This was a 129-acre island of about 500 people, where locals were skeptical of outsiders and secrets were held tight. Tim got a job building a house, and as time went by, he built connections and had heard rumors of the pot smuggling. They all seemed like ghost stories until he literally woke up in an opportunity to go for it. Clark, Tim’s childhood friend and neighbor, had already been working on a stone crab boat with Captain Red and a second-mate from Michigan—a guy Red did not really know or trust. There was no one Tim’s Chase Boat, Paradise. 33 ft. Chris Craft Scorpion 400 horse power. It was used to run offshore along with the large loaded boats in case they needed to escape when something showed up on the radar. local to vouch for him. Red had been missing out on the pot hauls and stone crabbing was hard work, so he and Clark basically worked this guy from Michigan to get him to want to quit. That was when Clark toldTim there was an opening on their boat. Red and Tim hit it off, and Tim went to work with them the next morning. A day of stone crabbing starts around 3 or 4 in the morning of course, at the first crack of dawn when they could see the first buoy, because of the time it takes to lay traps and pull the others. Red worked a part of a fleet of 15 – 20 boats, the entire operation of which pulled about 7000 traps a 10 day period. Red’s crew would lay 700 traps here, 700 traps there, and they were not going home until they had all 700 traps. Timmy’s first morning waking up in the bunk though, the sun was already up. He looked over to the Captain in the wheelhouse, who swiveled his chair around and said, “Well Timmy, we’re not going offshore today, we’re not gonna pull traps. We’re just gonna hang out here all day then go offshore in the afternoon and unload a pot boat from Columbia.” Timmy, who did not know about the 15 ton haul until he was already in it, said, “Okay, cool!” Stone crabbing went well with pot hauling because of the rugged labor that comes with moving massive quantities for transport. The crab traps had 4 inches of concrete at the bottom, so when thrown off the boat, they’d always land bottom-down, making them about 60 pounds each, just the traps. Each crewman handled

350 of these every day, with nothing to hang onto but each trap across a 30’ deck in open ocean to load and stack them. This is the kind of work during the day that preps you to move a thousand 60-pound bales of pot in one night. Timmy had to maintain his crabbing position to be able to continue going offshore and unloading the freighters. Sometimes they’d split 30,000 pounds between 2 boats, or to make it really quick, they’d divide it equally among 3. There was a hierarchy that strategized the runs. The more boats went, the more boats would have to get paid—in prospect, about a half a million - $600k per boat, and then captains paid the crew out of that share. These were first hands to handle Tim and Clark were accepted in this niche because one of the islanders could say, “This is my wife’s brother and his neighbor he grew up with”—which meant locals knew exactly where they were from and that they weren’t cops. As Red realized he had 2 high-trust, reliable men who wanted to work, Tim started making about $35k for every 30,000 pounds hauled. The bigger the haul, the bigger the money—soon Tim was making anywhere from $40k to $100k a night. They were working 3 to 4 times a week, so they got pretty clever about details, becoming masters of hiding in plain sight. Running 25 vehicles a day off the island to & from Miami with loads from a house absolutely jam-packed with marijuana became part of the grind. They’d drop off at a shopping mall with one of their partners from Cuba, who owned the ships. 99% of the time, the runners didn’t own the ships—they were what the government called “service providers.” Timmy would go to Columbia, Belize, Jamaica, Panama—he’d buy it, haul it, & deliver it to Miami for $175 a pound. If someone else could send a boat where he’s making the deal, Timmy would take it offshore from the vessel, smuggle it in, and deliver it for $145 a pound. No one else could beat his price. They never lost a single load—except those turned over to law enforcement and the government. We’ll get there. taking off and sunk. To this day, you can see planes sunken to the bottom of the ocean. Timmy’s connections all over the Caribbean served him well with the cocaine runners in Miami. He only knew two people in that city, and that’s all he wanted to know. Timmy’s provider in Columbia lorded over the entire of Guajira Peninsula, where the commercial grade red grew that all of the US wanted. This connection was a cousins to the Ochoas of the Cali Cartel of Colombia, which the US DEA deems “one of the most powerful crime syndicates in history.” The Cali Cartel broke off from Pablo Escobar and his Medellin associates because, as Tim says, “I know everything there is to know about Escobar. And all of what you read and what I’m sure you’ve been told about Escobar is total bullshit. The guy was just a fuckup and a fool and a total idiot. Nobody really liked the guy. Nobody wanted to work for him—which is why the Cali Cartel came into existence, it’s founders the Rodriguez Orejuela brothers, Gilberto and Miguel, and Jose Santacruz Londono left Medellin Cartel. Pablo started getting stupid and shooting airplanes out of the sky to kill Congressmen who weren’t even on the plane. So they said, ‘What is this, dude,’ and they If you’ve seen the movie Blow , you may remember a little island in the Bahamas. That island actually exists; it’s called Norman’s Cay. Apparently if you fly over that island today, you can see dozens and dozens of twin-engine aircraft that either did not make it to the island, or did not make it because they were too heavy Tim in prison, accepting his diploma from a fictional writing class. J25

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