If you could go back in time and talk with your younger self before you became an international fugitive, what advice would you give to him?
Whatever you do don’t break the law! If you get a felony, you are a second-class citizen at best!!! Don’t break the law it’s a lot easier to make money legitimately than illegitimately! Once you made money legally, there are people like bankers to help you out. There may be grants or other types of programs to help you with your business.
Who is going to finance a load of pot or for that matter fund any illegal businesses? The people who will you don’t want to meet – it’s not going to end well.
Would you have read or listened to Gringo while you were an international fugitive?
I took being an international fugitive very, very serious. I had used my “get out of jail free card” once. I was never, I repeat never, going to have that opportunity again. I sure didn’t want to mess up and go back to prison. I didn’t drink, I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t break any US laws, and I concentrated on the straight, the narrow. I studied in various countries, under aliases, in many different universities it was a job.
I also studied manuals on how the FBI, DEA, US Marshalls, etc. all tripped up fugitives. I read bounty hunter books, bail bondsman techniques, immigration manuals, customs manuals, loads of passport manuals, anything that I thought could keep me from being apprehended. If a book like Gringo was out there and I knew about it, I would have definitely read it.
While you were on the run what was the craziest thing that happened?
Wow, that was a loaded question!!! I had so many wild and crazy incidents!! I started with around 800 pages and had to cut out 500 pages to get Gringo to 300 pages. That is the number of pages the typical American reader reads in a week, that was the number we had to get to.
This is a tough question to answer. I know one thing when you listen to the audiobook you’re going to be entertained and probably won’t believe some the things that happened.
Ok, so here is one incident. I was on a bus in Guatemala, a very packed, local bus, which was full of Mayan Indians. One woman was beating on the window of the bus to stop, which the driver did. She left the bus and went into the ditch with a couple of other women. She then came back with a baby. She had just used the stop to give birth in the road ditch!! After that she continued on in the bus, a few minutes later she was beating on the window again. The driver stopped, she went out and had another baby in the ditch!! She gave birth to twins!! They didn’t charge her for the two new passengers.
Often I get a flashback after seeing something. Now I’m thinking I should have written that down in my 800 pages!! You will be entertained while listening to Gringo!!
During your time in South America did you fall in love?
That is a much easier question to answer, and the answer is yes. I fell in love with a world-class volleyball player 20 years younger than me. She was also a Venezuelan beauty queen. I married her. I was madly in love with her, and we were living the dream until I was a kidnapped from Venezuela.
After that she lived a nightmare, they took off her wedding ring, stole it and sold it. They took the lightbulbs out of the ceilings, they took the electrical cables out of the walls, and they confiscated the cars. In fact, they even took some friend’s cars that were parked next to ours. They threw her mother and 94-year-old grandmother out in the street. They took our home and businesses; in South America, when they come, they come hard, and they don’t leave anything.
Gringo: My Life on the Edge as an International Fugitive is a thrilling book, and I’m wondering if there is a miniseries or a film in your future?
Gringo has been getting rave reviews, many people have said that my life is what movies are made about. Gringo is based on my life as a fugitive. I have an additional 500 pages of unpublished material. After the audiobook promotion, I’m going to put my efforts into going to the next level, which is a miniseries or major feature film.
It will definitely become a miniseries or major film – it is only a matter of when.
Thank you so much for the interview and your time.