First and foremost, I respect all religions. What I’m revealing today is only about my own experience. I’m not saying it’s everyone’s experience.
My father, like many Cubans, practiced Santeria, which has its roots in Yoruba, a religion that slaves brought from Africa. Because they weren’t allowed to practice their religion, it was hidden behind, and eventually influenced by, Roman Catholism. However, in my many homes growing up, there were no signs of the Christianity. No Bibles or pictures of Jesus.
There were, though, many symbols of Santeria. In the kitchen on top of the cabinets were vases and jars full of sugar, honey and coins, to bring in money. Behind the front door were a brown coconut with a cigar half smoked and an expresso coffee cup on a plate. (I have no idea why.)
In the freezer next to the food were coffee cans that had little pieces of paper with names written on them. When I asked my father about the cans in the freezer, he said, “Those individuals are being cooled down.”
My father was a career criminal and I guess he needed all the help he could get.
As I was connecting to the Colombia cartels, I knew the consequences would be great if I got caught. I didn’t have a crystal ball per se, but I had Maria.
She was pretty famous tarot reader in Miami with a background in Santeria. Her claim was that she could prevent or fix any problem, and her client list included an executive secretary from the White House, whom I met, lawyers, doctors, high ranking Miami city officials, and, she said, priests. She also saw a number of drug dealers.
Drug dealers all have the same problem: “I want it Now!” They’re impatient, always looking for short cuts, and that’s what Maria seemed to promise. Whether the client wanted LOVE, MONEY, a JOB, or help with a LEGAL PROBLEM, she could get it for them, she said. But as I learned the hard way, short cuts don’t work.
I saw Maria a few times and she always told me that my road was clear but that a tall women with long brown hair would get me into trouble, so stay away from her. Then she gave me a protector to always carry with me.
Since The Golden Rules that Pedro taught me said don’t do drug business with women, I thought I was in the clear on that. But desperate circumstances got the better of me, and it was a female confidential informant who brought me down.
The complete story of my experiences with Santeria and getting busted will be in my forthcoming memoir.
P.S. My own beliefs have always been Christian. As soon as I could drive a car, I went to church to open that channel with the Lord because I knew in my heart it was the right place for me to be.