Book of the Week
by Michael Beas
Life sometimes has you on the run. Sometimes it feels as if you can’t decide which way is up vs. which way is down. Raving is truly a privilege that all of us can take for granted sometimes. Time is the one thing you can never take back yet somehow we find ways to take it for granted. Author Dan ‘Tito’ Davis is one who ran with the bulls. Time eventually caught up with him and before he new it, his life was on the run. Here’s a quick description of his international bestselling book titled “Gringo” which I personally had a chance to read and check out over the weekend.
The Drug Game From The Inside
Dan “Tito” Davis comes from a town in South Dakota that’s so small everyone knows their neighbor’s cat’s name. But once he got out, he made some noise. While at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, he started manufacturing White Crosses, aka speed, and soon had the Banditos Motorcycle Club distributing ten million pills a week.
˃˃˃ Life On The Run
After serving a nickel, he got into the weed game, but just when he got going, he was set up by a childhood friend. Facing thirty years, Davis slipped into Mexico, not knowing a word of Spanish, which began a thirteen-year odyssey that led him to an underground hideout for a Medellin cartel, through the jungles of the Darien Gap, the middle of Mumbai’s madness, and much more.
˃˃˃ The Ultimate Fugitive Story
Tito didn’t have a mega-mansion filled with pretty girls and expensive cars. He survived in the Third World facing adversity at every turn. Millions of dollars came and went as Tito stayed one step ahead of the Feds and the Federales.
We had an opportunity to catch up with Tito while he was in Russia, this is what shared up with us at Raver Mag.
You’ve been locked up and on the run. What was the biggest challenge for you when you got out jail?
The biggest challenge when I got out of jail was technology. I hadn’t been on the street in 22 years between being a fugitive and being incarcerated. Fax machines were considered high tech at that time. When I got out I was a total dinosaur. I was on the bus leaving prison with $50 bucks in my pocket and everyone else seemed to have a smartphone. At one point, some guy pulled out his phone and ordered Domino’s pizza and he picked it up at the next stop. I couldn’t believe it! So, without a doubt, it’s the technology. I struggle everyday and am trying to immerse myself in all of it to get out of ‘dinosaur mode’.
I recently went out to get a smartphone. The guy selling it was a big dude with all kinds of tats who looked like he might have spent some time in jail. He asked me, “Where have you been man, in a cave?’’ I said “No, I’ve been in federal prison” to which he responded “Oh, thanks for sharing.’’ He was quite helpful and I ended up having to go back to him a few times, I was really struggling. Some guy says “Hey, send me a message’’ and I didn’t know what a message was or “Hey, attach a photo to the email’’ and I didn’t know what attaching was!
What’s your take on weed and the fact that most states are trying to legalize it these days?
Weed legalization has taken too long! I remember back in the 60’s when Hugh Hefner was trying to legalize it and now we’re finally making some headway. I was about 30 years ahead of my time when I was a pot smuggler and unfortunately my timing was off. I had to become a fugitive because of it and I made some bad decisions but what can I say?
I think that California, Nevada, Colorado and the other states legalizing pot have definitely done the right thing. In my opinion, booze is a lot more destructive than marijuana. You don’t see anyone fighting when you have a group of guys smoking pot but when you put a few cowboys together and give them a few beers then someone is going to fight.
Anyway, I think they are going in the right direction. In fact, I was at some of the National Marijuana conventions and they were thinking about making me a poster boy for California pot since I was an old pot smuggler. There’s nothing wrong with pot.
A ‘Gringo’ in Columbia on the run. Life wasn’t simple for you back then. When things started to feel normal again where you felt you didn’t have to go run again, did you ever think the US Government would find a way to go and kidnap you? Talk to us about that experience… (Tito doesn’t really answer this question per se, talks about needing and ID/being under wing of cartel etc)
When I got to Colombia what I really needed was an ID. I was living with the cartel underneath their arm of protection. If I hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have made it far. There were no Americans or tourists down there back then. The president of Columbia was Pastrana and he had given the FARC rebels an area of land as large as Switzerland. In that area they were the law; they could marry, bury, and baptize which they did.
My first Spanish instructor was a lady whom I was living with trying to do total immersion. Little did I know she was teaching me Spanish in the morning but had another job in the afternoon; she was a sicaria (a female murderer for hire) killing people in the evenings. One day she returned home having been shot, that terminated our Spanish lessons.
Colombia was a dangerous and lawless place. For example, some of the best killers were children. Their mothers would not feed them before they went out to ‘work’. They knew from experience that if their son got shot while working and needed surgery, precious time and blood could be lost trying to pump the stomach of someone who had recently eaten. Another example, two guys couldn’t be on a motorcycle because the guy on the back would be assumed to be a shooter. Additionally, wearing helmets on motorcycles was even made illegal to try and help identify people. Anyway, most of that is in the book.
I was never a big pot smuggler. Lots of people have done a whole lot more than me. I didn’t think I was a big enough fish for the US government to come down and kidnap me. I turned out to be wrong. I figured that if I stayed under the radar, I could start a new life again. I wouldn’t have to have a security squad or anyone looking after me. That was the thing in Latin America: If they know that you are a fugitive, you’re going to have to pay them off. If they don’t know, then you’re just some gringo down there living.
When I found out that the US government knew where I was, I was initially terrified even though I had some good things going for me. There was no extradition with Venezuela then, nor is there now and I didn’t think there was any way that they would come and kidnap me. In fact, there was a Venezuelan terrorist/Venezuelan Cuban who bombed a Cuban flight that killed a number of their Olympic team. His name was Luis Pasadas. Luis was incarcerated in Venezuela but managed to escape dressed as a priest to Panama. Luis was better at escaping than getting caught, but he got arrested in Panama. The president at the time was pro US. One of the last things she did was to pardon him and grant him asylum. He ends up going to the US to Florida where, because he’s anti-Castro, he’s a minor celebrity. When Hugo Chavez got word of this, he goes before the United Nations to call Bush the devil and to say that the US needed to give up Pasadas or that he was going to turn off the oil. Needless to say he didn’t make good on his threat and there was no extradition. I didn’t want to get tied up in the political thing, but with Chavez calling Bush the deviI figured I was pretty safe.
If you could change the sands of time, would you do it all over again?
Obviously if I could change the sands of time I would do somethings different. I should have never gotten into anything illegal. I had the Redbull of the day, I had the white crosses. That is what was happening in the 70’s. I should have marketed that main stream, paid my taxes, and then life would’ve been way different. Instead I’ve spent almost 33 years in court, incarcerated, or as a fugitive since 1984. It’s been 34 years and I’ve only been free a little over a year. That’s over 33 years because of bad decisions. I definitely wouldn’t have done any illegal stuff.
Music. I am sure technology changed drastically between then and now How was that change for you and are you digging this new music revolution in the world today?
I like music and I enjoy music. When I was a fugitive in South America I had the pleasure of meeting Ricardo Arjona a few times and became a fan of his. Most Americans or gringos aren’t familiar with him but he’s basically the Frank Sinatra of Latin America.
Anyway, with new music I like rap. I enjoy Lil’ Wayne and Notorious B.I.G. The beats are great. I obviously like rock and roll but that’s kinda for the old guys.
Being that I’ve been out of the loop for a long time, I’m not really qualified to be a critic and am certainly not a connoisseur. I do know that new stuff things are always coming around and that lots of times old folks are calling it ‘radical’ and ‘new’, but to me it’s just a natural evolution.
A lot us in the Rave community have had to reinvent ourselves. Your story is, in many ways an inspiration. What message do you have for people who are in transition stage of their lives so that they can get up and start over?
A lot of people had to re-invent themselves. Probably one of the most successful was Hugh Hefner. In Playboy he has spoken about how he re-invented himself. My message for people in a transition stage who are trying to start all over: Hey go for it! If you’re not in the position that you want to be in, try and change for the BETTER. The toughest thing is taking the first step. It’s kind of like traveling; just go. Don’t be afraid! You’ve got to think positive and go for it. It’s not easy, and you’re going to get knocked to your knees. Your old habits will be tough to break, but perseverance while working towards your happiness is the only way and if that means reinventing yourself then go for it. You’ve only got one life to live, so make the most of it.
Now my book, it’s not about drugs. Gringo, it’s not about drugs! It’s about survival, it’s about perseverance, it’s about hope, it’s about never giving up and that’s all while in transition. People in the rave community, if you want to get ahead then get yourself a plan and GO. Get yourself a goal, do some research about how you’re going to achieve it, and go!
I can see this turning into a mini series with you as the protagonist and the US Government trying to chase you down. Any talks on making this onto the screen?
It’s only a matter of time before Gringo becomes a movie or mini series. It’s all there. The action, the plot, the plethora of unique characters. I mean my life is non-fiction and it reads crazier than most fiction books! Truth is indeed stranger than fiction. I’ve written over 800 pages of material of which 300 made the cut for the book. We’ve talked with some of Brad Pitt’s production people as well as Mark Wahlberg’s agent and some people at Netflix. It is just a matter of time at this point, everything is there and I’ve built an incredible team to assist me with strengthening my personal brand and infrastructure with a travel blog at my website DanTitoDavis.com and a forthcoming podcast with some amazing guests! I’m looking forward to the future.
At the end of the day if you’re looking for a kick ass book to get into this week, definitely check out Gringo by Author Dan ‘Tito’ Davis