Mickey Munday: Twilight Cowboy

When Mickey Munday saunters into Bulldog Barbecue in North Miami, he picks a table across from a mirror so he can see everything behind him. And as he does whenever he enters a room, he makes a mental note of all the possible exits. "I guess it's an old habit," drawls the 65-year-old former cocaine smuggler, two decades (and a seven-year prison sentence) removed from a work environment fraught with cutthroat Colombians, snitches, and FBI raids.

Not that Munday is in hiding. His long, fading locks and floppy cowboy hats make him instantly recognizable. He's a regular at a few local haunts — Bulldog, Tobacco Road, Cameo — and since being featured in the documentary Cocaine Cowboys, he has entered that weird world of celebrity where you have no day job, rappers name themselves after you, and strangers in Italy want to be your Facebook friend. As Munday chats with New Times, the restaurant's owner brings him a free plate of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk. "If somebody was upset with me," Munday remarks as he dips a cookie, "I'm real easy to find."

The North Miami native was the son of George Munday, a heavy-browed footballer who spent four seasons in the NFL, playing for Cleveland, Saint Louis, New York, and Cincinnati. Munday's mother was a former Ohio beauty queen. He graduated from North Miami Senior High and studied architecture and drafting at Dade County Junior College. Not exactly the makings of a criminal mastermind — but you could say Munday was a late bloomer.

Mickey Munday
C. Stiles
Mickey Munday

In 1978, Munday was 33 and running a concrete block company he inherited from his dad and a high-speed motorcycle shop. He wasn't desperate for cash, but he was bored — so he organized the sale of 2,000 pounds of pot for a friend. "I was amazed that I could make that type of money for something so easy," Munday recalls. "And I got to thinking that transportation is always the key to everything."

Then he met Max Mermelstein. The American point man for the Medellín Cartel found an occupational soul mate in Munday, an experienced pilot with a knack for logistics. Munday joined a crew that spent the '80s importing Cessna-loads of cocaine with a value totaling upward of $2 billion, cementing this city's reputation as Shangri-la for gun-battling smugglers — and hell for the citizenry.

The spree came to a crashing halt when Mermelstein flipped on his cronies in 1987, making Munday a fugitive before finally sending him to prison five years later. The 2006 cult hit Cocaine Cowboys transformed Munday's life. Paramount Pictures bought his story rights for a film about him and Miami drug dealer Jon Roberts, who will reportedly be played by Mark Wahlberg. Who's being discussed for Munday's part? "I've heard Leonardo DiCaprio," he says with a wry smile. "He's handsome enough."

Mermelstein died broke and isolated in the Witness Protection Program. But his old pilot says there's a reason he's enjoying a peaceful postprison life: "I never hurt anybody. I never did understand the violence that went with the business. How can you make money when you're killing everybody?"

<<Bernice Steinbaum | Carlos Miguel Guerra>>

 
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25 comments
RainingBlood561
RainingBlood561

Mickey never snitched, unlike Jon or Max. He did his time and paid his so-called debt to society. God Bless him I say. You go Homie!

Mark Rousseau
Mark Rousseau

No D Bos of Balt, this guy never snitched, you have it wrong.

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Mandy
Mandy

He went to prison, did his time and got out. He wasnt a snitch.

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Bone Lee
Bone Lee

Mickey is a really cool cat... I got to meet him one night in a restaurant... I told him I always wanted to learn how to fly, and he gave me a lesson right there in the lobby... It was kind of surreal...

Bone Lee

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dutch
dutch

mickey's always out here at tobacco road. he still drives this weird ass old truck modified with planks of wood. he's a true florida g.

Art
Art

...so I guess all of the drugs that you brought into this country were all to heal people rather than take advantage of their addictions and compulsiveness?

D. Bos of Balt.
D. Bos of Balt.

This dude had to be a snitch... How else did he survive dealing with the so called Cartel..

tl
tl

dude is always at billys pub (north miami) cool dude

SCOTT MILLER
SCOTT MILLER

MICKEY IS AT THE OPA LOCKA HIALEAH FLEA MARKET ALMOST EVERY WEEKEND BUYING FRESH FRUITS AND ALL KINDS OF TOOLS.

carlos
carlos

What a country!! I did Federal time in the early 80's for distributing 7 million Quaaludes. No one in Hollywood has approached me about a movie! Good luck Mickey!! Hope you make loads of that "legal " money.

Nicole Mundee
Nicole Mundee

Great article! I love Mickey, he's a great guy & a blast to hang with =) You did well in this article!

Calmplexed
Calmplexed

If he was a snitch, he'd been dead a LOOOONG time ago. He is still a public figure and easy to find... Your hypothesis does not compute.

Mik3y Math
Mik3y Math

in this business, if yu get caught there is no witness protection program, yu either take like a man, or fold like a bitch. snitchin isn't an option unless you were alreddy considering committing suicide anyway...

Christina Mob Pereyra
Christina Mob Pereyra

easy. he did his job which was to fly planes & minded his own business. thats how you survive

Christina Mob Pereyra
Christina Mob Pereyra

not to mention he was on the run for 6 years. he could've easily snitched & gotten less time but he's a real man & did his bid the right way

Gene Turlington
Gene Turlington

Not wanting to go to prision and evading capture does not make anyone a coward. And as X said in Layer Cake, "Always remember that one day all this drug monkey business will be legal. They won't leave it to people like me... not when they finally figure out how much money is to be made - not millions, f*cking billions. Recreational Drugs PLC - giving the people what they want... Good times today, stupor tomorrow. But this is now, so until prohibition ends make hay while the sun shines." And if it wasn't for Francis Burton Harrison we might never have had the Cocaine Wars.

Foghorn37
Foghorn37

a man, really? he ran for years that makes him a coward in my book!

 
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