Confessions of a Trafficker

Jon Roberts was a big-time Miami coke dealer who did time in the big house

We were getting $3500 a kilo. We would only deliver half. They would put the money in the truck and return the car and I would then give them the rest of the product. You never wanted to have money and drugs in the same place.

At that time we were working with Noriega in Panama. The money would be put on one of our planes and we would fly the plane from here to Noriega's people. We would never send a plane with less than ten million dollars. The money would be taken off there by the army. The army would take it to the bank. We were partners in the bank with Noriega.

It ended up where Max and I were making $750,000, a million a week. I had garbage bags on my lawn, and each bag had like a million, $700,000 because I had nowhere to put it. Nobody was questioning anything. My neighbor was getting ten kilos a week; the neighbor across the street was getting twenty. I had three Cigarettes [boats] hanging in the back yard, two cougars, a helicopter in the back yard. I would fly to the racetrack.

I'd land to see my horses run. I had 40 to 50 horses at a time. It's $50,000 a month just to feed them. At the Forge ... you'd spend $20,000 in a night there. It was like waste. It was nothing, the money.

We bought a boat company, apartment buildings, land up in Tampa. How much did I spend? Probably as much as I put in the bank, $50 million. Easily.

Just more than a year after Mermelstein was arrested, the feds staged a raid on the gang's various properties all over Florida. Roberts was caught at a building used for radio communication with Colombia and the pilots.

Max rolled, started cooperating with them in jail. The government had no idea, and honest to God, if it wasn't for Max Mermelstein.... They knew nothing of where the farm was, knew nothing of our trips. We'd been working for like five years. You get on a trip where you're making so much money, that you are just so powerful [you think] nothing is going to happen.

I have nobody to blame but myself.

Roberts was released from prison in October 2000.

— Introduction and transcription by Rebecca Wakefield


Sidebars:

Fidel Castro: Narcotraficante numero uno?

Manuel Noriega: The man

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