Before anyone had heard of the Mexican cartels and the Colombian kingpins, there was a group of Cali surfers, friends who discovered weed in the ’60s and—in a fit of stoner inspiration—figured out how to smuggle in the best, most potent stuff on earth. Over a decade, they built an empire that made hundreds of millions, while laughing at the war on drugs. Joshuah Bearman, the writer who brought you ‘Argo,’ tells the whole true story:
The exchange always happens fast. Like in the movies, the money would come in Halliburton briefcases. Unlike in the movies, the Company usually waited to count it.
And count it. And count it. And count it. It took so long to count that much cash, they got bored. The partners each made half a million. For his rescue of the Duck, Don got an MVP award, a new Company institution, which came with a bonus payment of $25,000. Everyone else got their wad and prepared to scatter to the winds—the sweet, distinctive scent of their trade wafting from their clothes and hair.
It was exhilarating, the money and the camaraderie. The Company members saw themselves as hippie outlaws. There was no violence, no guns, just the threat of the law, which bound them together. They were criminals, but they were also a family. Afterward, Lou and Dave sat in his cabana, going through receipts, accounting for a very good year. They hoisted two flutes of champagne. “Here’s to everyone’s efforts,” Lou said. “Let’s do it again soon.”