Cocaine was flooding into the United States at an unbelievable rate by 1985. The Medellín Cartel was responsible for almost 90% of the cocaine that was smuggled into the country. They were grossing around $80 million a day from the cocaine.
Cocaine prices were dropping in the US by 1987, not because less people were buying but because of the large amounts the Cartel was bringing into the country. In 1985 a kilo of cocaine was worth $32,000 in Newport Beach CA. In 1987 that same kilo would be worth only $18,500. The Colombians, like Jack Rausch, had left Miami for SoCal. The traditional route for the Cartel was through the Caribbean and by 1983 Carlos Lehder (the Cartel’s head of transportation) was finished in the Bahamas. Carlos was reduced to hiding in the jungles of Colombia.
Jack Rausch was having big success in SoCal. He moved load after load of cocaine until he felt the heat from law enforcement. He had been in a restaurant waiting to exchange car keys with his contact when a woman walked by and flirted with him. He noticed that she was sitting with another woman and neither of them had touched their food. When the contact arrived, Jack left with the keys. He saw that he had a tail. He ditched the cars following him, but he saw the woman drive by as he was parked. The heat was on, so he dropped off the contact’s car in a parking lot and let him know where the empty car was parked. He quickly dumped his pager and emptied his stash house. He called his office in Colombia and gave them his new pager number. That was how the game was played back then. If the heat was on you just dumped everything and waited it out. The law only had so many resources that they could spend on a guy doing nothing.
José Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha, one of the members of the Cartel had developed smuggling routes through Mexico. He helped flood the SoCal market with cocaine in the 1980’s. People who were not in SoCal at the time cannot imagine the amount of cocaine that was going around. It was every bar, night club, restaurant and party. So many people were buying it or dealing it. It was not uncommon to see multiple people in restroom stalls sniffing cocaine when you walked in to use a restroom.
Looking back on his life, Jack Rausch figured out that he moved enough cocaine to supply 40 million doses (or hits) to people. Jack knew what he was doing was wrong but things like right and wrong get lost in all the money coming your way. In the 1980’s all of us thought the party would never stop. We never thought that we would see the year 2000. It is funny because we not only saw the year 2000 but saw our 30s and are now in our 40’s. In those days Jack and I would pull up in front of our favorite sushi place in Aliso Viejo in our Corvettes. The last time we met, much older, we were both driving regular Toyota trucks.
Jack had to make a trip to Medellín to see the bosses around this time. It was a really bad time in Colombia because the Cartel was at war with the Government of Colombia but it was really the United States that was behind it. The US was the world's biggest consumer of cocaine and by the mid-1980’s over 500 tons were being used a year. The politicians were under fire from everyone to do something about the cocaine epidemic. The cause of the problem was not the Cartel shipping hundreds of tons of cocaine to the US it was the people in the US using it. America never likes to take responsibility for its actions. The US Government pressured the Colombian Government to let them extradite drug traffickers to the US to face trial. The Cartel members knew that nobody ever beats the US Government in a trail so they fought to stay in Colombia.
The biggest criminal in the world was Pablo Escobar at this time. He was pulling down more cash than any criminal before him or since. The Cartel offered to pay the Colombian National debt if they would not extradite them. The Government passed on his offer, so Pablo started a war. Pablo and Carlos Lehder were both heavy into politics but they both had to go underground. They both started working with paramilitary groups in the jungles. They brought in Israeli mercenaries to train their private groups and assassins also know as sicarios. The Cartel sicarios like to drive up on a motorcycle and blast a target with a pistol. This is how my friend was murdered in Newport Beach California in 1987. I helped the Deadliest Warrior reenact this hit on an episode in season two. “Plata o plomo” which translates to “silver or lead” was Pablo Escobar's motto. You would either take a cash bribe, or be shot full of holes. Pablo also offered up a million peso reward to anyone who killed a police officer.
This was the Medellín that Jack left Orange County for in the 1980’s. He was able to secure a big job for Pablo to move an 800 kilo load. When he got back to the US, Jack was happy at the time because he was moving serious weight for the big boss. He never thought that he was selling his soul for a little plata. He was invited to Kevin’s disco which was in the mountains overlooking Medellín. When he arrived the parking lot full of bodyguards with machine guns and the first thing he thought was it was a trap. Jack was not going to be killed, Pablo was inside.
Jack left after a few minutes, not wanting El Doctor to notice him. A few days later he was at another Cartel dinner spot when a waiter came over and told them that DAS, the Colombian FBI, was going to raid the place. Jack and his buddy took their pistols and went up to the roof through a secret passage. DAS came and went but before they left the roof another two car loads of heavily armed men pulled up. When Jack was leaving the restaurant one of the men came up and shook his hand and said you did a great job El Mono. El Mono was his nickname. The guy who shook his hand was Pablo’s top sicario.
We are not selling to addicts or kids. That is what Jack and the rest of us told ourselves and each other in the 1980’s. I mean technically, we did not, but what we did sell made it to the little dealers, which made it to addicts and kids. I know Jack has thought about the damage he did and he knows there is no upside to drug use. It is not glamorous or fun in anyway. Pablo Escobar was a murderer who had people attack the Palace of Justice in Colombia and murder the judges. He had Avianca Flight 203 blown out of the air. I have searched online for a passenger list of those 107 people that were killed and you cannot find it. Pablo Escobar is a subject of movies and books. This year I saw a Pablo Escobar Halloween costume. These drug groups never last long because once the leader is gone that is the end of the group. Pablo gave up Carlos Lehder to be extradited to the US. He gave up a number of traffickers. There is no honor among thieves.
Jack Rausch was enjoying success, or what he thought was success. Life was materially good but inside he was lost. It was the Mid-1990s and he was still in the game. He had stopped using drugs and drinking, but his life was dark. All the money came and went but happiness eluded him. The cocaine game had changed from the 1980’s. The prices were down and it was not as socially accepted. The cheap drugs Meth and Ice had taken over as the high of the day. Colombian traffickers no longer wanted to take a chance of being locked up forever in a concrete box in the United States. Mexico had been a shipping point since the eighties and the groups inside the country had become powerful from the influx of cash. They had the people in the US because of the non existent border. They had their own built in distribution network that was easy to staff. The treaties made bringing truckloads across the border easy. Jack was now being directed by the office in Medellín to meet with Mexicans who smuggled the cocaine into the country. Mexico as a country is even worse than Colombia when it comes to corruption. The former President's brother had a bank account with over 60 million that he got from drug traffickers. In the border towns law enforcement either are corrupt or dead. Mexico is really a Narco State like the shows like to portray Colombia in the 1980’s. Our Government just won't admit it. Jack began a 10,000 kilo load that the office in Colombia put together with some Mexican traffickers.
Jack had a used car lot and life looked good. He figured that this would be his final job for Medellín. He met the Mexicans when the load was in SoCal and he received the first 550 kilos. He dropped off 300 and then was getting ready to drop off another 200 when he noticed the helicopter. He was soon surrounded by flashing red lights right there on the street in Aliso Viejo. Jack's time on the street was over.
He was defiant when locked up and he told law enforcement that he worked alone. True to form for the criminals of today he was basically alone. Days turned to months and so on as he waited for a court date. He was given a Bible, which is the one thing they cannot take from you even when you are in the hole. One day when he came out he saw some men seated around a table praying. He decided to join them. Many years later he began his ministry after a lot of school and worship. People can change, but only if they are willing. Once they embrace God anything is possible. There are not many people from that time period left. Many of the people we knew are no longer with us. Those that stayed in the life are locked away forever. Time for all of us to do some good. Please read From the Cartel to Christ for the full story.