Synopsis[ edit ] Two friends enter the illegal drugs business, thinking it is the fastest way to become rich. The illegal drug trafficking world seems attractive to all these middle-class people, who overlook the associated dangers and legal problems. This choice begins a turbulent and troubled lifestyle that will change their fates forever. The snitches sapos make war between these criminal machines to the point of breaking. Oscar has been killed and decided to make Martin as the owner of the cartel. He continues his illegal activities, meanwhile watching enemies kill his old friends.
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Print Article AA Picture this: Dozens of drug smugglers dance and drink outside a colonial-era farmhouse in a leafy countryside near Cali, Colombia. A salsa band provides the soundtrack for a bustling wedding party. He grabs his new wife, Sofia, a Miss Colombia finalist dressed in a flowing white dress. They laugh and cut into a towering red-and-white cake. Suddenly, a man with a flowing mustache bursts through the crowd, a cell phone clutched to his chest.
Then, abruptly, horror ripples through his lean, stubbled face. A half-dozen gunmen in tracksuits and camouflage pants leap a wall, and rounds pop from their semiautomatic weapons.
A vase explodes. Guests flip the carefully appointed tables, littering the ground with lace doilies and floral centerpieces. Men clutch their chests, crumble, and die. As usual, the drug smugglers have blown off steam with a soccer game — this time in Tulua, a jungle city not far from Cali.
Suddenly shots explode. Bullets thwack into the turf, spitting grass and mud into the air. A screaming pack of men with automatic weapons runs past the goal firing wildly. Rounds ricochet off trees. Someone screams. Then the shooting stops as suddenly as it began.
The friends run. One scene is fiction, the other fact. The wedding shootout was portrayed in the hit Colombian narco-drama El Cartel. And he rose through the ranks until he was shipping tens of thousands of kilos of cocaine through Miami every year.
For the U. Sapo is also Colombian slang for snitch. Depicted in books, drug lords who once terrorized Colombia have become objects of fascination in Latin America. There are dozens of other examples. But I wish he would get himself some protection. The same traits would lead him into the drug trade less than a year later. It would also help him rise quickly to the top. When he was just a few months old, his father took off to the United States to look for work and ended up in a New York factory making pop-tops for deodorant sticks.
She sneaked over the border into Texas and eventually found work at the same factory. They bought my abuela the cab. Where did all the money come from? He and Fernando, an irrepressible jokester, became fast friends. With the same number of hours in the cocina, he earned 10, pesos. Within six months, they were churning out several kilos per month. At work, the teenagers joked, partied, and sampled their wares.
He had trouble hauling the huge vats of dangerous chemicals used to turn coca leaves into a drug. One day, a buddy watched him struggle, laughed, and nicknamed him Florecita — a delicate little flower.
It stuck. She had the high cheekbones, light skin, and Renaissance curves of a traditional Cali beauty. She spoke with intelligence and poise.
The next day they met at the fruit stand, and Maria was quickly wowed by the fast-talking teen with cash to burn. He handed her a shot of aguardiente and ordered: "Drink up! He paid a Cali furniture maker to create replicas of airline seats with hollow centers. Everyone would pull out their seats to float and find them full of cocaine.
The real mail, meanwhile, went on another plane. We shipped drugs like that for two years, until Orlando Henao found out. This time. The soccer-pitch shootout in the jungle near Tulua — which happened in — was an isolated burst of violence in a normally peaceful smuggling career.
He stared slack-jawed at the newspaper photo. But when they met again, he seemed different. A month later, in May , they were married.
A few days later, Maria found out she was pregnant. They showered more than 50 rounds on his table, killing six people and wounding the drug prince. More than heavily armed fighters were assembled there, listening to an array of radios and satellite phones.
Maria, still pregnant with their first child, hid inside. The silence hung heavy. Or how much drugs has my organization moved? David Weinstein, a savvy prosecutor with two decades of experience jailing Miami drug dealers, shrugged.
Stunned silence followed. With that simple admission, he established his credentials as a major player, became a certified snitch, and sealed his exit from the drug trade. The gang set new standards for bloody conflict. He was a logistics guy, charged with getting the coke where it needed to go.
They lived first in Kendall and then in Miramar. Later that year, the couple had a second son. Maria sensed he was unfaithful.
She was right. And he had an explosive temper. Finally, in , she had had enough. They divorced. Back in Colombia, Norte del Valle Cartel had erupted into civil war after Orlando Henao was arrested and then executed with six shots to the head. Another prisoner had smuggled in a. They indicted him that July in Miami federal court. Told by a U. The pair dined at an upscale restaurant and talked. The night before, they stayed up until sunrise at a seaside bar, talking things through.
Half a dozen federal agents were waiting. They spent a week debriefing him while he lived under hour guard at a Doral hotel. Prosecutors delayed his sentencing.
He was detained at the Miami airport and tossed in immigration jail. He spent three months behind bars. Maria, his ex-wife, wept loudly when the judge read the verdict. In they charged ten top members of Norte del Valle Cartel with the same statutes used to put away big-time mobsters such as the Gambino crime family. The prison terms handed out to the drug barons crushed the group. His lawyers won a reduction in his sentence based on his snitching. In March , a judge cut his sentence to 20 months.
The cocky young coke-runner had to forfeit millions in cash and his freedom. Even though they were divorced, Maria helped him weather the storm.
I never should have turned myself in," he said. He is inconspicuously clad in a T-shirt, gym shorts, and a plain, blue baseball cap. District Court of Southern New York in He was broke, unemployed, and forever severed from his life as a top-flight coke dealer. He described his early entrance into the drug cartels, who got whacked, and who was a snitch. He named names. The worst moment, he says, was explaining to his two sons — then nine and ten years old — why he was behind bars.
Maria and his sons picked him up. He was ecstatic — but still unsure what to do with himself. Cristo put him in touch with a book firm. The book has "everything: sex, power, drugs, money.
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Andrés López López
El Cartel de los Sapos
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