ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Xavier knew he didn’t want to get involved directly with the cartels in Juárez.
All he wanted to do was buy “product,” sell it for a profit and party in Albuquerque.
But he got ripped off in a cocaine deal and needed a lot of money to pay off the debt. There was one dealer from Juárez who offered him money.
“I borrowed money from him to pay off the cocaine debt,” he said. “Then they got rough – threatening me, and family I had in Mexico.”
“They start just giving orders. ‘Pick this up. Take it here. Deliver this. Go there.’ ”
They took him to Mexico, where he was shown what could happen to him.
“They’re into all this crazy stuff. Murders. Torture. ‘If you screw us, this is what happens.’ ”
He was working with the Juárez Cartel.
Xavier isn’t his real name; there are still problems from his past that could come back to haunt him.
He’s in his 20s, on federal probation and counting himself lucky he’s not doing time in federal prison, but he says he is grateful that being arrested changed his life.
Loved the lifestyle
Xavier was never addicted to drugs. He was addicted to the money.
He loved the lifestyle of treating his friends to expensive nights at strip clubs and restaurants.
But he was always conscious of the organization he worked for and the inherent danger.
“You never meet the leaders,” he said. “It’s like the Army, I guess. You meet the guy in charge of your area, and that’s it.”
Xavier said his contact with the cartel also followed strict orders – what type of drugs he could sell and where in Juárez he could operate.
Selling as much dope as he could, Xavier put together enough money to pay off this latest drug debt.
“I was still taking orders from them, but I was getting paid now,” he said.
Ask Xavier how he got started dealing drugs, and the answer begins with a cliché – hanging out with the wrong crowd.
“I think about it a lot,” he said. “What was the mistake? How did this happen?
“You know what they say about parents knowing who their kids hang out with. It is really true. I got in with the wrong crowd.”
Through that crowd, he met a guy who always had money and a nice car.
“He would buy food for us. I started talking to him. He was selling weed. I started selling weed for him. It wasn’t a whole lot. Half a sandwich bag. Selling to classmates.
“Finally I was able to buy directly and started selling on my own instead of working for someone else, until I had those setbacks and borrowed money.”
After clearing his debt with the Juárez Cartel, he didn’t end his business relationship.
He developed other connections in Mexico, while working for one part of the cartel.
“I’m (was) selling pills, heroin and meth,” he said. “But I (would) get involved in shipments of marijuana. Big ones.”
He was loading tons of marijuana into tractor-trailers, and he hired drivers to make runs to New York and Chicago.
“Pot was selling for $800 a pound on the East Coast,” he said. “I was making $10,000 to $15,000 a trip just for loading the truck and hiring the driver.”
And then another disaster.
One of the trucks was stopped by police, the load discovered and the truck seized.
“We also lost $80,000 in cash,” he said.
He said he got ripped off for another load of marijuana and was getting desperate.
Again he found more of the wrong people, this time selling methamphetamine.
“I met a guy, just out of jail that the feds were interested in. I get busted. Thank God.”
Jail saved him
Thanking God for getting busted is not something you expect to hear.
“I think I was praying for it. To get caught,” Xavier said. “I didn’t want to keep doing this my entire life.”
He called the experience humbling.
“I gave my life over to God,” he said.
“If I could take it all back, I would. I wanted to succeed. It was a shortcut.
“The easy life is like an addiction. This addiction to the easy money is as bad as the drugs.
“Every deal is going to be your last deal, but you become afraid. How am I going to pay for this car? How am I going to pay for this house? How do I pay the bills?”
Once it was all gone and he was in jail, he said, he was saved.
“I got baptized,” he said. “I am working on my spirituality and my family and my faith.”