Tuesday, February 3, 2009


In the 70's when I moved to a small town in South Central Florida, I had no idea it was a drug mecca. A mecca not for drug sales, but as an entry port of drugs into the US. Planes landed daily on air strips provided by cattle ranchers. It was rumored that the ranchers received $25,000 each time a plane landed on their property. The ranchers had to do nothing but allowed the planes to land for this sum of money. Trucks picked up the cargo and it was distributed through out the states.

My little house in the woods almost needed an air traffic control tower over it. There were 5 air strips with in a 5 mile radius of my property. Local law enforcement was reputedly corrupt. The huge money was hard to resist I guess.

I had a good friend who was with the Florida Game and Fish Patrol. These men have the power to arrest for any crime, not just poaching. Mark( as I will call him) was the Buford Pusser ( of Walking Tall fame) of our town. He had an amazing record of drug busts. This should have but did not make him popular with the powers that be for he was constantly being reprimanded for the drug busts and was told to stick to wildlife poachers.

Mark and I had the same disdain for the traffickers. I had two good friends that I had worked with, whose lives were in the toilet because of drugs. One who used and had spiraled out of sight and the other was in prison for racketeering. These were men who had it all at one time. It was personal with me. I freely admit I had experimented with"weed" when I was younger but alcohol was my party drug of choice and I luckily never made it to the hard stuff.. Mark summed up my feelings about the traffickers one day stating something I had also contemplated as the planes flew low over my house.

"You know,"he said, " I have often thought of shooting them out of the sky but it would be my luck that I would hit a plane load of nuns."

One night, my dogs barked for almost the whole evening. I thought they must have some poor skunk cornered but it was too cold to get out of bed to check. When I walked to the front of the property in the morning, I saw what had captured their attention. A large army duffle bag was laying on my property about 100 feet from the front fence line. At first I was angry that some one had actually walked on my property and thrown their trash. I then noticed the broken tree limbs and knew it had to have come from the sky.

Inspecting the bag, I was stunned. It was full of tightly wrapped packages of a whitish substance. I was pretty sure I was looking at cocaine. I stupidly took a sniff of the package and my heart started racing like it would leave my chest. " Aw crap," I thought," I am going to die right here and they will think it was mine."

Well I obviously didn't die but I was deeply shaken. I raced to Mark's house and told him what I thought I had. He knew what it was. The evening before, a DEA plane had been chasing a drug plane while the occupants were pitching out the bags as they flew. They threw out 17 bags of cocaine on my area. Empty of bags, they landed on a private air strip and cleverly rubbed cocaine on their shoes before running into the woods.. When the dogs tried to track them, their noses went numb and the traffickers were never found.

There is more to this story but I will save it till tomorrow. Rest your eyes.


  1. Wow. What a story, patti. It's hard to imagine ranchers wanting to have planeloads of cocaine landing on their property, but I guess when there's money to be made...

  2. It was huge money Robin. I guess the ranchers felt removed from the traffic as they never witnessed the removal of the drugs. Who was to say it wasn't an unauthorized landing? They were virtually safe from prosecution. All cash transactions.

  3. Never a dull moment in that neighborhood, I'll bet. It's a good thing you got out of there. Interesting story.

  4. Actually Betty, that town is now squeeky clean. The importers keep moving to new locations as the heat builds up. Don't know where the current drop location is.