The sawed-off trafficker was gunned down by a hit squad in Colombia. “But my guess is that he, like most people in his position, is probably given to great fits of exaggeration. Max has made his own alteration: He's plastered onto the pendant a diamond-studded version of the cartoon Tasmanian Devil. They then returned to Rafa's apartment where Rafa told Max, "You work for me now". So in 2004, when his father, prominent Vero Beach developer Marty Tabor, asked him to come manage his property business, Tabor grudgingly agreed. Defense lawyers who have come up against Mermelstein so far credit his smoothness and apparent knowledge but question his reliability. 165 cm große Kolumbianer kontrollierte und lieferte Kokain vom Ursprungsland an Großabnehmer aus. Among those refugees: the jittery shooter standing on his front steps and demanding that Max act as his designated driver. Fluent in barrio español, Max had married Colombian-born Lara Hernandez, his third wife. They subsisted on room service, Chinese food, and a delivery from Longhorn Steakhouse. For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Rafael Cardona Salazar . A look at California’s November ballot propositions. "Just listen. "I didn't think I was hurting anybody," he said later. The daughter was also bequeathed $800, according to Wes Barclay's will, which was filed in Franklin County Court in Kentucky. Mr. Restrepo, who is 38 and who has described himself as a businessman, has pleaded not guilty. He lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in a low-flung Section 8 complex, joking that his lifestyle was "ghetto fabulous.". After meeting with Gregorie at his office, Tabor picks up his wife, Andrea, who has been shopping at the Bayside Marketplace, and they head back to Vero Beach. Rafa put Max to work full-time as the Cartel's American point man. Last year, Mr. Mermelstein was sentenced by a Federal judge in Los Angeles to two years in prison - the time he had served while awaiting sentencing - and placed on lifetime parole. A kilogram is 2.2 pounds. But the enthusiastic filmmaker must have swayed him over greasy chicken and rice at the Bayside food court, because after they cleared their trays, Gregorie invited him to his office on the eighth floor of the nearby Southern District headquarters. Max chugged white chocolate mochas, his favorite drink, from Starbuck's. Fearing for his own life, Max continued to drive until they stopped to dispose of the body at a road shoulder. And it could all be traced back to Max. He's a voracious eater whose weight constantly pinballs between 200 and 280 pounds. Los Angeles prosecutor Walsh said Mermelstein for years had been involved with one of the men DeLorean was accused of dealing with. Tabor was also there, along with Gregorie. Tabor arranged to pay $9,000 for the rights to The Man Who Made It Snow. Roughly six years and 56 tons of cocaine later, reality surrounded Max in the form of siren-blaring vehicles belonging to several federal agencies and Broward County deputies. "I only remember seeing the flashes. Aspiring filmmaker Brett Tabor tops a medium popcorn with jalapeños, as is his custom, and sits down in the air-conditioned darkness in a Delray Beach movie house to watch a 7 o'clock showing in November 2006 of Cocaine Cowboys. Kingston agreed to help produce a script from Max's memoir The Man Who Made It Snow. A Colombian Businessman. Last week, in a federal courtroom in Los Angeles, law enforcement agents and prosecutors from across the country appeared for Mermelstein’s final sentencing, arguing in his behalf before a federal judge known for his toughness on drug offenders. In Frankfort, Max frequented the local strip clubs, browsed flea markets on the weekend, and smoked like John Wayne. Expert Witness Details Secrets of a Drug Cartel, Selwyn Raab, Special To the New York Times. He refers to film-industry superstars using only their first names, compares pivotal moments in his life to scenes in classic movies, and can't help but brag about the time he shared a Thanksgiving table with Al (Pacino) — which he swung because his wife, Andrea, was once assistant to Harvey (Keitel). Federal prosecutors say Mermelstein became more and more involved with the cartel, working directly under Rafael Cardona Salazar, who reported to Jorge Ochoa in Medellin. He began to announce he was now in "the business of Max." Get the latest updates in news, food, music and culture, and receive special offers direct to your inbox, The Internet Is Extremely Upset About Something Pat Riley Never Said, From Porn to Politics, Juan Melecio Mounts a Longshot Campaign in Wilton Manors, Max Mermelstein, the Snitch Who Brought Down the Cocaine Cowboys, Hid for Two Decades, Football Games Will Disrupt COVID Testing at Hard Rock Stadium. He and Max never saw each other again. Max, living under the name Wes Barclay, moved to Kissimmee, where he became chief engineer of Westgate Vacation Villas resort. The most successful: the horror flick Population 436, which "you can still catch on Cinemax," as Tabor points out. No silent B footage, no interviews, just that one picture of America's greatest cocaine king. Max found his calling in cocaine smuggling. This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. Meanwhile, his adopted hometown burned around him. ", Use of this website constitutes acceptance of our terms of use, our cookies policy, and our privacy policy. But the family man had already shown genius for illicit importation. Deputies seized a permitted Walter TPH .22 in his glove compartment and $275,000 they found stored under his bed. They said he grew up in Brooklyn and attended New York Community College and the New York Institute of Technology. For two years after the killing, Max sold loose kilos around Miami and New York. Max left Ana's husband, Mannie, a computer and a handgun that he legally should not have owned. Mermelstein went straight to work as an engineer after his graduation from New York City Community College in 1963, taking a series of jobs as plant manager for major hotels and corporations in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Miami and Atlantic City. But he wasn't pulling the trigger. The son of Benjamin Mermelstein, owner of a little corner store in Brooklyn, Max studied mechanical engineering at the New York Institute of Technology. There’s always a potential danger in using people like that who have an overwhelming incentive to say whatever they think will best serve their purposes, and that means to lie,” Sonnett said. See the article in its original context from. Max gets comfortable at the conference table, palming a Parliament out of its pack. Max Mermselstein, meanwhile, received a thousand-word eulogy in the Washington Post. Mr. Mermelstein said his job was to pick up shipments of cocaine flown into Florida, usually in small planes carrying 400 to 450 kilograms of the drug. “I asked him (Mermelstein) about the weapon, and he began questioning me, and all of a sudden, he’s hitting on all fours, you know? Relatives had been strewn randomly across the United States. That's a third of his net worth at death: $4,000, minus $1,600 in credit card debt. Max already knew he had cancer of the lung, liver, and bone. An old man shuffles, aided by a walker, into the drab conference room of the Marriott in Frankfort, Kentucky. His testimony that day was sealed for security reasons, but a law enforcement official with knowledge of the proceedings recalls that Max blamed himself for the kid's wrong path. Max's sneering response: "Not through anything you did.". Testifying for the prosecution in a Federal drug conspiracy and money laundering trial, Mr. Mermelstein said that from 1981 to 1985 he was one of the cartel's main representatives in the United States. “I’d like to see the country get the best mileage it can out of Mr. Mermelstein,” the judge added. Mermelstein also warned U.S. officials of a Medellin cartel contract to murder government witness Barry Seal and helped convict the three Colombian nationals arrested when Seal’s bullet-riddled body was found outside a Baton Rouge, La., halfway house. "You're going to hear some shit that's going to shock you," Max warns. Kingston didn't share Tabor's obsession with Max but saw its cinematic potential. Probably the only crony Max didn't have a chance to sell out in his conversations with Gregorie was Rafa Cardona Salazar. "It's because I'm always behind the eight," he explains vaguely when Tabor asks him about it. Terms, After months of negotiations, Max decided to flip on the Cartel in return for a reduced sentence — he ultimately served only two years and 17 days. The Los Angeles indictment charged Mermelstein with supervising a massive cocaine importing and distributing conspiracy, a charge that carries a potential penalty of life in prison without parole. Max relished his role as the Henry Ford of cocaine, even briefly adopting a Colombian alter ego using fabricated documents: According to a Florida driver's license, he was Maximiliano de Leon. Engaging with our readers is essential to New Times Broward-Palm Beach's mission. The testimony came at the trial of Carlos Eduardo Restrepo, who is accused of laundering more than $10 million for the Medellin cartel through a currency-exchange company in Greenwich that was an undercover ''sting'' operation set up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Between 1978 and his arrest in 1985, according to Gregorie, he had arranged for the delivery of an estimated 55 tons of cocaine, worth $360 million. Max's pet, Cat, also lives in Ana's house somewhere in Florida. Johnston said he argued vigorously against Mermelstein’s decision to cooperate with prosecutors, pointing out the danger to both him and his family. “He is probably the single most valuable government witness in drug matters in the country today. “We had a murder weapon, but we didn’t know where it came from,” Winters said of the fully automatic Mac-10 rifle recovered near the scene with its serial number drilled out. ''The evidence will show that my client, Carlos Restrepo, is a capitalist.''. Gregorie knew if Max cooperated, he had the inside information to serve up the whales. Mermelstein, who had told law enforcement authorities the essential terms of the contract on Seal’s life--$500,000 dead in the United States, $1 million alive in Colombia--later helped investigators identify the murder weapon. Max went on to become what Gregorie calls "the greatest informant in history," crippling the Medellin Cartel by helping send more than a dozen honchos and associates, including Noriega and Lehder, to American prisons.

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