In 2004 I was one of the main connections for cocaine here in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It’s a gradual thing. You start off small, then as you get a reputation you get bigger and you get the best prices. People start coming to you. Whoever I was giving it to, I’m sure he was flooding the city with it.
It was a cartel out of Atlanta, GA. Their set up was very smart. They don’t let you know where they live. They don’t give you personal numbers. They’ll use disposable phones, safe houses. I wanted it that way in case anybody in the ring got busted, I wouldn’t be the one to blame because I don’t know where you live. I don’t even know your real name. I just know your nickname. But they knew a lot about me. I lost two kilos and a car that belonged to them, which is about sixty thousand dollars street value.
When I pulled into exit twenty at the movie theater in Cleveland, TN, a guy was working under his hood at this gas station at midnight in forty degrees weather in December. Then I looked to the left in the parking lot and see a black squad car, like a Chevrolet Caprice, in the back undercover. The guy I was going to meet was smack dab in the middle of the parking lot, in the light. Everything just did not look right. If you’re going to meet somebody for a drug deal you don’t meet them in the middle of a lighted parking lot. You park to the side or in the back. When I saw that I just went ahead and made a U-turn. As I was leaving the parking lot the guy that was under the hood of the white car jumped in his car and tried to pin me, head first.
I pulled one of these little, wrap around moves, got over on the shoulder, jumped on the Interstate highway, and punched it. I turned off my headlights, threw the kilo out the window, and just punched it as fast as I could. I was in an Infinity going about one hundred forty miles per hour. I thought I had a really good head start on them, but they already had a lot of officers positioned along the highway - state troopers, TBI, DEA, and the Cleveland, Tennessee Drug Task Force.
I lost control of the car, in the gravel. It flew off of an embankment between Chattanooga and Cleveland. There is a spot on that stretch where there is a row of trees in the median. I flew in there, and out of all the trees, the one I hit was already down. My car just rode along the trunk of that tree, like a ramp. My wheels got stuck. Before I jump out I threw my phone because I knew that had the phone conversations recorded.
An officer jumped out of his vehicle and was about to shoot me, but I surrendered immediately. I said, “Don’t shoot!” He said, “Where’s the gun?” I was, like, “I don’t mess with guns.” He said, “Get on your knees.” I got on my knees. A state trooper then came from behind me and smacked me on the head, saying, “You could’ve killed somebody.” even though the roads were dead.
Another cop stopped the trooper and said, “Hey man, get away from him.” He said, “Hey, *Mano. You’re a lucky individual. The hand of God really watched over you. We had orders to shoot. What happened to you, getting in this accident is just amazing. You don’t even have a scratch on you.” I just sat there in shock. I was, like, “Man, I finally got in trouble.”, because all of my life I had slipped through the cracks. He said, “I wanna let you know something.” I said, “What?” He said, “We’re the ones that busted your friend, Christian, a couple of years ago. He’s a Youth Pastor now at a church in Cleveland. I’m a Christian. I know God has a plan for you.” I looked at him and was, like, “What do you mean?” He said, “For what just happened you cannot deny that Angels were watching over you. You’re gonna do a lot of time in prison. Use this time to build a relationship with God.”
By the time I got to the jail, I was already ready to hear the gospel. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know who. I didn’t know about this whole thing of being born again. I had heard about it, but I had never really inquired about it.
Here’s what happened. I was just sitting there on a bench crying. Someone gave me a bible. I just cracked it open to Ephesians 4. It said, “He who used to steal, let him steal no longer, but let him make an honest living with his hands so that he can give to those that are in need.”
*Short for Hermano (Spanish), which means Hey brother!