“Say hello to my little friend!”
Those are the famous words screamed by Tony Montana as he’s about to launch an M203 grenade at Bolivian cocaine kingpin Alejandro Sosa’s men in the 1983 flick Scarface. The scene, which leads to the film’s climactic shootout, ends with the fictional Cuban drug lord’s violent death.
Almost every cinema fanatic would agree that Al Pacino's over-the-top performance, the mountains of blow, and the movie’s guerrilla weaponry make it a cult classic. But reformed real-life cocaine smuggler Mickey Munday isn't impressed.
“When that movie first came out, I thought it was a comedy,” he laughs. “None of it is true, especially the shootout. There’s no way it would last that long without having every law enforcement official out there.”
Coming from a guy who’s moved more than $2 billion worth of coke by airplane from Colombia’s Medellin Cartel to the United States, this critique carries serious weight. Still, it's not stopping Munday, the last standing Cocaine Cowboy, from celebrating his 70th birthday with a Scarface-themed bash and Tony Montana look-alike contest at Churchill’s Pub on June 5.
“I’m getting so old now that we don’t light up candles — we pour 190-proof Everclear and set the cake on fire,” Munday jokes.
But setting a cake ablaze is as flashy as he gets. Even during his glory days as a smuggler, the Cocaine Cowboy always maintained a low profile, which allowed him to fly under the radar for almost two decades.
“Why would you wanna look like a drug dealer?” Munday asks. “If you're in law enforcement, you're gonna go for easy targets. That’s why I like the wannabe drug dealers — if [an officer] thinks there’s something wrong with you, they’ll go after you.”
Discretion seems like a solid strategy for evading arrest. But the ex-drug trafficker points out that amateurs, posers, and the inexperienced are quick to boast about being in the nose-candy business.
Of course, among those wannabes who brag of their coke connections are rappers. From Jeezy the Snowman and Miami’s own Rick Ross (who took his moniker from “Freeway” Ricky Ross, the notorious dealer who introduced crack to L.A. back in the ‘80s) to Stitches' “Brick in Yo’ Face,” cocaine has long been a symbol of status, wealth, and success in the rap world.
“I think it’s the amount of money it makes,” Munday says, explaining the desire to flaunt real or fake cocaine riches. “When you have money and the drugs, it gives you the power. That’s the reason anyone who’s in the business wants to look like they’re in the business. They’ll make it rain at some strip club and buy bottles and spend the money, but I never understood why they all wanna look like thugs.”
As for Munday: “I don't drink, I don't smoke, and I've never tried drugs. I don't drink because I decided not to, not because I had a problem with it.”
Abstaining from narcotics, alcohol, and other vices may have been a decision the pilot made years ago. But when it comes to working in the drug trade, there’s a good reason you should never dip into your own product, like Tony Montana did.
“Everybody thinks, It's not going to be me. But would you go to the dentist if he was doing coke everyday? No,” Munday says. “Then why do you think you could be running a business without being sharp? If you're in a business that's incredibly dangerous and you've got people trying to cheat you and steal from you and had law enforcement on top of you, you would wanna be as sharp as possible, twenty-four seven.”
During his years moving powder goods across international waters, Munday dealt with Pablo Escobar, Griselda “La Madrina” Blanco, and the feds. It was a dangerous job that landed him in prison for nine years, but he has no regrets.
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“It was an adventure,” Mickey Munday insists. “I did some really crazy things, but my particular job, if I thought somebody would get a scratch, I wouldn't do it.”
Mickey Munday’s Birthday Bash and Scarface Festival. With music by Scott Becker, Analog, Ornimental, and others. Presented by Brickell Smoke Shop, Roll White Boys, and the Oski Foundation. 8 p.m. Friday, June 5, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com Admission costs $10. Ages 18 and up.