What with all the depressing news of war, famine, train wrecks, avalanches and the Space Shuttle explosion lately, I thought you might enjoy this uplifting tale. It’s about my lifelong chum Ramon.
Growing up he was one of those scrawny misfits who speaks softly if at all. He was also very secretive. Hence his nicknames, Mumbles and Secret Squirrel. Though not by any means stupid, he was a so-so student. As we all went off to college, he drifted down to Tampa, Florida. For a while I lost touch with him. Then he returned home and it was clear to all that a transformation had taken place. For one thing, he had begun overcompensating by being loud and boisterous. He also had money in abundance. Before long we all learned that the Tampa recording studio he spoke of was no more than a sham, a front for his drug-dealing enterprise.
And a successful enterprise it was, for a time anyway. He soon owned posh spreads in Florida and Maryland, paid for in cash. Guard dogs patrolled his yard. He hooked up with a stunner named Traci. They married, and at the reception Dom Perignon flowed freely. Tuxedo-clad waiters strolled about with trays laden with fancy Greek appetizers. Over two hundred guests were in attendance. A string quartet played much like the one depicted in Titanic. This wasn’t one of those “finger food” deals where guests go home famished either. A full three course meal was served.
The gold-digger Traci screwed all his friends with impunity. Afterwards she’d badmouth him behind his back. She took him to the cleaners in their divorce. Blackmail may have played some role in that.
As so often happens with the nouveau riche, his arrogance knew no bounds. Ditto for his mercurial temper, particularly when it came to his brazen wife. Worse still, he started dipping into his wares big-time. Yet Ramon wasn’t one of those people upon whom dope exert an exhilarating influence. The higher he’d get, the more sullen and withdrawn he’d grow. His business began to suffer from his burgeoning addiction and depression. Plus, he shied away from violence. His gang thus lacked enforcers to deal with those who’d inevitably renege on debts. NBC’s new hit Kingpin, it wasn’t.
Despite his penchant for paying cash, the DEA got wind of Ramon's operation. His fairy tale life fell apart. They charged him with running a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, which carries a life sentence. Through a combination of ratting out suppliers and hiring savvy lawyers, Ramon was able to cop a plea. Off to a min-sec Federal prison he went to serve out a six year sentence. You know the horrors depicted in Cool Hand Luke or more recently, Oz? Well, this isn’t like that.
He was a model prisoner, which earned him special privileges including the right to attend his mom’s funeral flanked by a Federal Marshall. He also studied hard, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Finance. When not hitting the books, he worked out in the gym, bulking up to a rippling 175 pounds. He took up tennis, twice winning the prison tournament. Most importantly, he swore off drugs and alcohol. Upon release, he remained clean & sober. He has told me that being sent to prison was the best thing that ever happened to him.
Now Ramon works in mergers and acquisitions, a job that brings him to exotic offshore locales. He spends a lot of time in the Virgin Islands and Cuba, of all places. And he’s still got his ill-begotten fortune.
So as tax time draws near, perhaps you’ll take some solace in knowing your money is well spent. To incarcerate someone runs an average of $16,000 annually, much more as they age. In Ramon’s case, that came out to $96,000. Which doesn’t account for his free college tuition and tennis lessons. Oh, did I forget to mention the...tanning salon? Does it really make any sense to continue locking up drug offenders when it’s clear to all that the so-called “War on Drugs” is an utter failure? I think not.
Did you read your own post?
If it wasn't for the threat of jail, your friend wouldn't have rolled over and a lot of other drug dealers would still be on the streets. Drug war sounds worth it to me.
If it wasn't for jail, your friend would probably be dead by now. Drug war sounds worth it to me.
He admitted it was the best thing to ever happen to him - he got an education, got clean, and is now a productive member of soceity. Drug war sounds worth it to me.
This story isn't typical, for sure. But it's certainly an ideal to aim for.
by mg at February 4, 2003 10:23 AM
I would be curious about stats on how many people are in jail for marijuana. That's what really seems like a waste of tax dollars. Because pot causes so much... violence... yeah...
I'm irritated by that new aim of the recent antidrug ads. Marijuana slows your reaction time. So please, try coke instead. It makes you FAST and FEARLESS!! The biggest danger to kids, in my opinion, is drunk driving. Several kids in my high school died of this. People I know or have heard of, ever, who died because of pot? Zero.
by Linz at February 4, 2003 11:33 AM
You know the U.S. is determined to have more progress countries tow the line with their drug policy too.
Canada is on the verge of decriminalizing simple possession of marijuana (and maybe laws in relation to marijuana cultivation etc too), and the U.S. has put a major pressure campaign on us to go the other way and tighten up our marijuana laws.
There is lots of drugs that do real harm, the authorities should really be concentrated on them, and not worry about weed...
by ChuckWoolery at February 4, 2003 12:47 PM
I haven't, to this day, ever, had anyone make a convincing argument as to why marijuana is an illegal substance and alcohol and tobacco are not. Both, probably, kill more people per year, no hard facts here just speculating, than all other drugs combined. I was reading an article in Maxim a few months ago and did you know Kentucky's largest cash crop is marijuana? This kind of changes the whole perception the government wants you to have of gun wielding, sneering cartels smacking the peasants, murdering everyone in sight. The people interviewed were poor mountain folk who didn't have a pot to piss in so they started growing weed to support their families. I wonder how many Americans know that there is a war on our people going on right on our own soil. Another thing. I don't understand how the government can rate marijuana in the same class, as far as dangerous drugs go, as heroine, coke, LSD. I've done my fair share of them, heroine excluded, and marijuana never made me think I was a spider or that I was ten feet tall and bullet proof. The legalization of marijuana would pull in revenues for this country that I'm not sure any of us could fathom. I agree we should keep the hard drugs illegal but let marijuana go. And for god's sake make it legal, no matter what, for medical use. That's just ignorant not to. Sorry about the novella.
by EZY at February 4, 2003 1:15 PM
Sorry, one more thing. I agree with you Linz about those damn commercials. The one with the kids and the gun would be a lot more believable if there was a bottle of Jim Beam sitting between them. Marijuana clouds your perception, true. But then again so does ignorance. Peace.
by EZY at February 4, 2003 2:12 PM
I've heard so many lies about pot and other drugs that I don't know what to think. 90% if the crap I've heard was from public school and the government. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and shame on me.
The more I learn about Canada, the more sane of a place it starts to look.
by MrBlank at February 4, 2003 5:25 PM
Well, thanks for the comments. MG makes a good point about Ramon, though I might add that since he remains so secretive, I don't actually know that he ratted anyone out. I do know that it pisses me off that I can't take a single game off him in tennis now. As for the business of pot, I can speak w/ years of experience about it. No, it doesn't make anyone violent. But there are rival pot gangs that kill one another over turf. And it makes you lazy. Lastly I totally agree w/ Mr Blank as usual Mr. Blank as usual.
by Anna at February 4, 2003 6:34 PM
Anna, I gotta say, thanks for this post. Great post. It's apparent that you made an effort in writing this, or at the very least, you probably weren't pissing-in-your-pants drunk as you hacked away on the keyboard. You actually tell a story, and an entertaining one at that. And isn't that what it's all about? Entertaining Eviltom? By the way, it's not even 9pm and I've had so much to drink I can't feel my face. Oh, fuck, I just pee'd on myself. Fuck.
by Eviltom at February 4, 2003 8:53 PM
Hey Eviltom I thought your brand of humour was only available Thursday's and Friday's. Good to see its here other nights of the week too.
You know you've had just enough when the face goes numb. 1 too many when the pants fill up.
by ChuckWoolery at February 4, 2003 10:36 PM
Damn. I didn't know my drunken posting was that obvious. You will note that this one was posted early AM on a work day. It takes a while to get toally tanked.
by Anna at February 5, 2003 7:49 AM
While marijuana, probably, plays a part, somewhere in the chain of events, there have been gang wars going on over turf for years. Most of the time it's to gain more real estate thus allowing them to have a larger area to conduct their clandestine operations. Most of the gangs, I know of, in the D.C. area are slinging rock and heroine, where the quick cash is, and sell weed as an afterthought. Decriminalize marijuana and you'll drive the prices down so far it wouldn't be worth their time to sell it. I mean, who wants to go to Northwest, or any shady area for that matter, to score a bag when you can stay in the burbs and go to a well lit package store?
As far as the lazy part, you just don't do it if you have things planned. Sunday, watching football, is a good time. Or, maybe, watching your favorite show before bed?
Evil One. You should stash a bucket under your computer desk. Very convienient my man.
I also agree with MG on Ramone. If only it worked that way every time.
by EZY at February 5, 2003 9:52 AM
Ezy, we maybe neighbors. Isn't Northwest the good part of the District? Also, I know guys who've risked life and limb to visit open air drug markets where you never know what product you might wind up smoking. (Whachou need!?) Better to leave it to the government in my humble opinion.
by Anna at February 5, 2003 6:21 PM
So was it just marijuana he was dealing? And as for a 'productive' member of society, MG, I'm sorry, but mergers and acquistions is a vile way to make a living, almost as vile as mine, except in my line of business, we really just burn each other and not the masses. Tennis and Tanning, jeepers, I wish I saw Ramon's resume when he applied for that M&A position.
by LOCKHEED at February 5, 2003 6:23 PM
Uh, no. But I consciously avoided mentioning the substance as I believe it to be an insidious poison unduly glorified in the mainsteam culture. Think a baby abortion in your nose.
by Anna at February 5, 2003 6:41 PM
Anna, neighbors we may be, indeed. I'm in Sterling. Is there , truely, a good section of D.C.? I'll admit Northeast is the worst area hands down but Northwest has it's fair share from what I've seen. One of my ex-friends deals out that way. High dollar clients but just as dangerous. I say let the government treat it like alcohol, tobacco, and tax the bejesus out of it. That would allow us to cut in to the deficit and make some room in the prison system for the true criminals.
by EZY at February 6, 2003 3:27 PM
Nice town, Sterling. Better than godforsaken Manassas.
by Anna at February 6, 2003 6:20 PM