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The Redemptive True Story of a Cocaine Drug Lord

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
August 4, 2023 3:04 am

The Redemptive True Story of a Cocaine Drug Lord

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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August 4, 2023 3:04 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, after running the North American cocaine trade for the cartel in his early 20s, Jorge Valdes found salvation rather than death. 

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Live preseason games are subject to local blackouts. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. And we love to hear your stories.

Send them to OurAmericanStories.com. They're some of our favorites. And now we bring you the story of Dr. George Valdez. He's the author of Coming Clean, the true story of a cocaine drug lord and his unexpected encounter with God. Here's George to tell his story. What's really interesting about my life is that a lot of times in life we believe that only bad things happen. To bad kids.

No one can ever imagine that good things can happen to good kids. My story is very, very different. My story starts when I was a young boy in Cuba. My parents were a very wealthy family. My dad was a man of tremendous integrity.

Didn't talk to him very, very much. My mother was everything in our lives. And my mother was the one that wanted to leave Cuba. She did not want her children. She was very religious and I want her children to grow up in a home that just did not was not allowed to worship God because it was a communist country. And my father, on the other hand, he really just thought that communism was not going to affect him. And he was 40 years old and I want to come to United States. And my mother said, well, if you don't want to come, that's fine. But I'm not going to raise my children here. My mother applied to leave Cuba when I guess in 1962, right after the revolution, which would have made me six years old.

We did not get to leave till October 11th, 1966. And I tell them my life, I look at it in three very traumatic or three shifts of my life where different occurrences happened that would define the next decade of my life. And the first one was being waked up in the morning early. My mother saying, get up, get up.

We're leaving Cuba. I mean, I'm in shock. I'm 10 years old. My brother's nine. My sister is five.

And I had no idea. So I went to pack some toys and my mother like, no, no, no, only the clothes on your back. So as I was going towards the airport, I'm like, Mom, where are we going? She said, we're going to Miami. We're going to be with your relatives.

And I'm like, I mean, constantly like looking and like wondering everything is going through my head. Why am I leaving my toys? Why am I leaving my friends? Why are we leaving our relatives? We get to the airport as we are waiting for our name to be called out. Then all of a sudden towards the end of just about everybody had boarded. I see my mother and my father crying and my mother coming to me and my father. All I could hear him say was, I'm not going. I'm not going.

I could not understand what he meant by that. But my mother grabbed my hand. I was 10. And she put it with my brother. My sister, she looked at me, said, Jorge, you take your brother and sister to Miami.

I will meet you there one day. And at that moment in time, my father, who was just crying, just shaking his head and I'm walking towards the air plate and I was in complete shock. I mean, like my whole world had shattered. What was happening to me?

What? Why am I? Where am I going?

Who am I going to go see? Why is my mom and dad staying behind? Well, my dad ended up joining us by God's grace at the last minute. And we arrived in Miami. And, you know, we used to live in a house that was one square block in Cuba. We had cars.

We had color television in our house. And we went to live with some relatives. And it was a total of 11 of us. And we went to sleep in the floor, one bedroom, one bathroom.

And 11 of us had to go to work or go to school. And at that moment in time, I made a decision in my life. And the decision was, you know, there's no God in the world. God is whoever I make him out to be. My mother's crazy.

Fidel was right when he said that God was only for weak people that need a meaning for their lives. But still, you know, I ended up doing things with tremendous integrity at the age of 17. I became the youngest employee in the Federal Reserve Bank. I was a straight A student. And I went to school at University of Miami and and worked at the Federal Reserve Bank full time. And I did that for almost four years and literally never had seen drugs in my life.

Never drank alcohol. I had a girlfriend that I would see her for two hours on Saturday night and about four hours on Sunday. And that would be about it. I was just set. My life was defined because my life was going to be I was going to reach the American dream. And the American dream was really defined to me two days after I came from Cuba. When I saw my cousin one day come and he had his gorgeous candy apple red GTO with a white interior inside.

And he had only been there about a year before us. And I began to say to myself, oh, my God, if my cousin, who just came from Cuba a year ago, has this beautiful car. The day I have a car like this, I'll be somebody. Because at that time I met what I call the pseudo American dream. That American dream that told me, George, whenever you have beautiful cars, whenever you have a beautiful woman, whenever you have mansions and cars and planes and all those great things, you'll be somebody.

And I was so focused on being that somebody that I really did not think about nothing else but that goal in my mind. Time passed and I'm about to graduate from the University of Miami. My accounting professor at that time, he came up to me and said, George, I want you to come work for me.

I just moved from Miami. I did not speak Spanish. You have secretary office, all those wonderful things that I thought that one day I would have when I own my own business.

And all you have to do is do my Spanish clients for me. And to me was probably the first evidence that there was a God in this world. So I went to work for him. I left the Federal Reserve Bank. You know, my father, again, very conservative, did not want me to leave. He thought I had a tremendous career. And my mother, the other way, was different. My mother was, you're never going to be somebody working for somebody, so do whatever you have to do, son.

And so she encouraged me. And I went to work for that man. And I remember going the first I mean, the first job I had was a little grocery store in Miami. I would say it was about 25 feet wide by 40 feet long in the middle.

Just really, really Cuban land. I called it at that time. And I went to work for him.

It's called La Puerta de Sol. And the first day that I went in there, he had a little office set up in the back, a little room in the back of the store. And I go there and the first thing that I see is a bag. And I begin to count the money. And it was over $100,000.

Now imagine this is 1976 when you could buy a gorgeous home in Miami for $25,000. So I looked at that and I was like, wow, amazing that a little place like this is making so much money. And when we come back, how did that $100,000 land in a bag in Miami? You're wondering, I think you already know the answer here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to OurAmericanStories.com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American Stories coming.

That's OurAmericanStories.com. For each person living with myasthenia gravis or MG, their journey with this rare neuromuscular condition is unique. That's why Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis, a new podcast from I Heart Radio in partnership with Argenics, is exploring the extraordinary challenges and personal triumphs of underserved communities living with MG. Host Martine Hackett will share powerful perspectives from people living with the debilitating muscle weakness and fatigue caused by this rare disorder. Each episode will uncover the reality of life with myasthenia gravis. From early signs and symptoms to obtaining an accurate diagnosis and finding care, every person with MG has a story to tell. And by featuring these real life experiences, this podcast hopes to inspire the MG community, educate others about this rare condition, and let those living with it know that they are not alone.

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Learn more at keysoulcare.com. Welcome to Mile 5033, the first mile of the first road trip with you and your newborn. Thankfully, your Hyundai Tucson has an available 10.25 inch infotainment screen, so you can seek out the soothing sounds of nature to keep your kid calm, or whatever else babies are listening to these days. And with available wireless device charging, your phone will stay powered up so you can ask the internet why the baby just made that weird gurgling sound at mile 5062.

Or that scrunchie face at mile 5103. Because when it comes to navigating the new roads in life, we're thinking of every mile. The new Hyundai Tucson. It's your journey.

Test drive the new Tucson at your nearest Hyundai dealer, or learn more at HyundaiUSA.com. And we return to our American stories and the story of George Valdez. When we last left off, George had gotten a job working with money, with a lot of money, with let's just call it funny money. Let's get back to the story. Here again, is George Valdez.

I mean, apparently this is definitely not what they taught us at school. So I let it pass and I did my books. I set up the journals. I did all that stuff that an accountant does.

Come back the next Monday. When I came back the next Monday, I find another bag and the bag has 75,000 this time. I looked around the store. I looked at all the receipts the guy had bought. It didn't add up to about $500 and I'm like, man, how the heck is this guy turning this $500 into so much income? I mean, I was that naive. Third week, it was just where the rover met the road. I come in again and this time it was like $110, $120,000 and I just, I couldn't take it anymore.

And again at the same time, nothing wrong would cross my mind. So I called him in. I said, Hey Albro, let me ask you a question. You know, in accounting, there's a very basic formula. You buy a dollar worth of product. And if you sell it for $3, you have $2 profit. If you sell it for $4, you have $3 profit.

I mean, this guy couldn't even read or write. I said, but we have a problem here. The entire month, all you've bought is about $800. And so far I'm counting almost $300,000. And literally he just started laughing in my face. He said, George, what do you think?

We're drug dealers. And you can imagine how shocked I was. And I thought I was shocked for about 10 seconds. I was shocked for about 10 seconds because that's how quickly I was able to convince myself.

Hey, George, don't get excited. You're an accountant. You were trained to count money.

As long as you don't break the law and do nothing wrong, you're fine. And then again, remember during this time, there was no money laundering laws. So he looked at me. He said, look, we have currency restrictions in Colombia. We can't take our money there. So we know that you work for the federal government. Do you know how to open foreign bank accounts? I looked at him and said, of course, I know how to open foreign bank accounts. He said, well, how much does it cost? And so now I knew that you could open a foreign bank account.

And I had heard that cost you about $700 in green came in. But I didn't want to get involved in any of this because this was just way beyond my means. I mean, I was the ultimate nerd. All I ever did is study and work. I knew nothing about life. I knew nothing about drugs.

I knew nothing about big business. And they're like, well, can you open three accounts for us? And I'm like, sure, not a problem. And of course, I'm going to give them this really stupid offer. And with that offer, they just going to go ahead and leave me alone. So I go ahead and I said $10,000 apiece. Now, remember, I knew that all they cost is about, you know, $700. So I knew for sure that they would tell me, hey, forget about it.

There's nothing here to it. So just good help. Well, they looked at me and said, can you open three? And so I'm trying to, you know, portray the big guy. I work for the government after all. So I'm a big shot. And I'm like, not a problem.

Probably take me a couple weeks. Well, you know, I think he's one of the gravest mistakes in my life because I've looked at life. I've never looked at life. I can't do something. I always thought.

Well, someone's done and I can do it too. And that was the wrong mindset because all of a sudden here, they give me right up front $30,000. I had never seen money like that in my life.

At that time, I think minimum wage was like $1.20 and I was making $23.25 an hour at the Federal Reserve Bank. All of a sudden I see $30,000 in my pocket. Well, it didn't take me long to make a connection.

Head out to Grand Cayman, open those bank accounts. And my world began to change. And that's something that I talk about crossing lines in life. You know, when we cross a line in life, it's just so easy to cross that little thin line. But then it becomes so hard.

But once we cross that thin line one time, then it just becomes easier and easier. And all of a sudden I was opening foreign bank accounts to people managing millions and millions of dollars. You know, my world started to drastically change. And then came the second shift in my life.

I went to a party and I saw this federal judge that would give people hundreds of years for any drug offense, snorting cocaine. And I said to myself, you know what George? There is no God in this world and there's definitely no morals. So whatever you do is fine. And then that's where my life just drastically starts to spin out of control. But then again, at the same time I'm saying to myself, well, I'm making a lot of money. I just bought a brand new Mercedes. I'm gonna buy my parents a house.

And again, I'm not doing anything wrong. And it's very important to go back to that era in the mid seventies. Cocaine was not even in the DEA radar. It was not even a thing. It was something that was for the rich and famous. And I began to justify my actions as we all do whenever we do something that just deep down inside we know is quite not right. So I began to justify my actions by saying, Liz, if rich people wanna do this stuff, that's their problem. At least I'm not involved with the drug part.

I'm just involved with the money. And I went out like that. Well, next thing they did is they asked me to, if I was interested in opening a banana import company. Little did I know that the least thing they were thinking about importing was bananas. And I said, sure.

I said, if you want me to be the president of the company, if you want me to do the whole feasibility study and the whole infrastructure, then I gotta be the president. And it was for people, it was for them. And these four gentlemen were the group that originally, the original group that would one day go on and become the Medellin Drug Cartel.

And they were different though. There were Manuel, who was the head of the cartel at that time, was a gentleman. He was a man that went to mass every day. He had enormous businesses. He was worth hundreds of millions of dollars in 1976 on coal mines, emerald mines. And I start doing all the infrastructure for the company.

And then I went all over Europe to look for a ship that we called a landing ship because it had to be something that would have low draft so that it would go in low waters. Because all along, all they care about was not importing bananas. They couldn't give a darn if we threw all the bananas in the ocean. What they wanted to do was import cocaine.

I had no idea, totally clueless. But we went on like that. And as I started to get to know these people, they started to say to me, you know what, George?

We want you to handle all our operations in the United States. Now imagine, here's a 20-year-old kid. I have braces. I've never, never crossed any. I've never done anything wrong in my life. I had a perfect record.

I didn't even have a speeding ticket. All the alcohol in my life did not even fit in a teacup. Being asked to handle all drug operations in the United States for the most powerful criminal organization in the world at this time. No way, there was just no way that even thought would cross my mind. But they kept that in a very subtle way, in a subtle way till one day I came up with this brilliant idea. So I'm gonna say to him, I said, you know what, I know what I'm gonna do. Next time that he asked me, if I wanna do that, I'm gonna say, okay, I'll do it, but here's the deal. You guys put up all the money and I want equal parts. In other words, you're four, now we're gonna be five. No doubt in my mind, no doubt in my mind that they would tell me to just go to hell because there's just no way in the world.

This mid 40s, multimillionaires, very, very powerful people would go ahead and let a 20 year old punk kid dictate to them that he's gonna be equal partners with them and they gotta put up 20% of his money, which at that time would have been, each load was costing three, $400,000 per person to bring in. So I left, they told me, well, we'll think about it. And I went back to my hotel and I'm saying, well, you know what, that's wonderful. Finally got rid of the headache, not a problem.

And I go on and I went to bed and I had this amazing feeling of relief. The morning when I went to go to the airport, they sent the driver for me and the driver said, we gotta stop at Manuel's office because he wants to talk to you. So I'm like, okay, we're gonna stop over there and see what he wants. So when I go over there, I'm like, yeah Manuel, is there anything that you need? Hold on one second, let me cut that out.

This dog started barking here for a second. And you've been listening to George Valdez tell the story of his own life. And he talks about crossing lines in life. And that first time it's hard, but then each time you cross it, and we all know it is we've crossed the line or two in our lives.

It just gets easier to cross the line. And then, well, from that first step, he finds himself approaching that job of handling all the drug operations for one of the largest drug cartels in world history. When we come back, more of George Valdez's story here on Our American Story. For each person living with myasthenia gravis, or MG, their journey with this rare neuromuscular condition is unique. That's why Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis, a new podcast from iHeartRadio in partnership with Argenics, is exploring the extraordinary challenges and personal triumphs of underserved communities living with MG. Host Martine Hackett will share powerful perspectives from people living with the debilitating muscle weakness and fatigue caused by this rare disorder. Each episode will uncover the reality of life with myasthenia gravis, from early signs and symptoms to obtaining an accurate diagnosis and finding care, every person with MG has a story to tell. And by featuring these real-life experiences, this podcast hopes to inspire the MG community, educate others about this rare condition, and let those living with it know that they are not alone.

Listen to Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Welcome to mile 5033, the first mile of the first road trip with you and your newborn. Thankfully, your Hyundai Tucson has an available 10.25 inch infotainment screen so you can seek out the soothing sounds of nature to keep your kid calm, or whatever else babies are listening to these days. And with available wireless device charging, your phone will stay powered up so you can ask the internet why the baby just made that weird gurgling sound at mile 5062, or that scrunchie face at mile 5103. Because when it comes to navigating the new roads in life, we're thinking of every mile. The new Hyundai Tucson, it's your journey.

Test drive the new Tucson at your nearest Hyundai dealer, or learn more at HyundaiUSA.com. It's summer at Starbucks, where the brightest drinks and the funnest flavors are all yours for the sipping. So whether you need to beat the heat, beat the crowds, or just take a beat, refreshing favorites are a tap away with the Starbucks app. And we return to our American stories and the story of George Valdez. When we last left off, George had become fully exposed to the world of narcotics, more precisely the world of cocaine, importing and selling it, and then laundering and hiding the money.

Things are about to get even wilder, though, for this accountant turned drug dealer. Let's pick up where we last left off. So when I went to meet Manuel in the morning, he's like, George, come in. So I went in there.

And he says to me, you know what? We'll accept. You go ahead and handle all our operations for us. We'll make you equal partners. We need someone like you in the United States. And I'm like, what the hell's wrong with this freaking peep? I'm 20 years old. What do you mean they need somebody like me?

I don't even know what the hell cocaine looks like. Handle operation? What does that mean? I mean, who brings it in? Who takes it to where? Who buys this? How the hell does this? And then what happens with the money?

Because at the end, later on in life, we'll find out that the easiest thing was bringing it in. The hardest thing is what we do with hundreds of millions of dollars in the 70s. Now, I'm petrified. I mean, I'm so scared right now that I'm like, there's no way in the world I can tell these people no. So I'm like, fine. Let me go take care of the, we're remodeling this ship in California. I said, let me take care of the ship.

And once we've done that, I'll come back, or we'll meet in Miami, and we can go over what exactly it is that you all need. So when I go to California, all along there, the gentleman I had hired to the refrigeration had kept asking me, hey, you know what? I know that your boat is for cocaine. And I'm like, no, you're crazy.

How would this boat be to bring in cocaine when it's in my name? Am I that stupid? You know, he and I got pretty friendly because I used to play baseball really well, and he had a softball team. And so we became really, really good friends. And he just kept kidding me about that. So when all of a sudden I find myself that I'm going to be head of all operations, I'm like, you know what? This guy wants cocaine in California, but let me do the same thing. Let me make him a stupid offer. When he says no, then I can come back to the menu and say, look, I'd like to help you guys out, but I don't have a buyer.

I don't know anything. So I go to Mel, and I say, hey, Mel, you know, all this time you've been harassing me about the boat being cocaine. And now that we're close friends, let me tell you. It is, man. In the meantime, I had found out that cocaine in Miami cost $40,000.

It was $20,000 in Colombia at that time, and it cost about $5,000 to bring it to the US, $25,000. And wholesale, it will sell about $42, $43 a kilo. So I go up to Mel, and I say, hey, Mel, I want to come clean with you. And he's like, oh, man, I knew it all along.

I knew it all along. How many can you sell me? I say, how many do you want? He said, well, how much? I said, $70,000.

It took an act of God for me to not pee in my pants from laughing when I came up with that number. And he's like, that's a lot of money. I said, exactly. We only handle the best quality ever. So he said, well, let me get with my people.

It wasn't about four hours later. He says, we'll buy five kilos. And I'm like, I don't know if I can supply that little. And I'm like, man, at that night, I couldn't even go to bed. I was just in such turmoil. I might as well get killed by the buyers, or I might get killed by the sellers, or somebody's going to kill me. I didn't believe in God at that time, but I was sort of like, Jesus, just go ahead and kill me right now.

Because take away the misery. Lo and behold, I go to Miami. And one of their representatives from that grocery store, his name was Jaime. And I'm like, Jaime, I got this problem. This guy already wants to buy three kilos. Now they want to put me in charge of all of this operation.

I mean, I don't know what the hell to do. He said, oh, that's easy, man. He wants three kilos. We'll get him to California, sell it to him.

How much? I said, $70,000. He said, $70,000?

Are you crazy? You sure they're going to pay and not rip you off? I said, I have no idea. I said, man, I've never sold a candy bar in my life.

How the hell do I know if they're going to pay me or not? He said, man, you better act like you can kill each and every one of them, because if not, somebody's going to kill you. I mean, I just couldn't sleep for a week.

They took the three kilos. I made $60,000,000. And then I came back. And within six months, I was US head of all operations. I was importing over 85% of all the cocaine that came into America. I was 21 years old. And I was making between $1 million and $3 million a month.

Now, it's very, very important to realize that's 1977 money, which is a little bit different than today's money. But you know, the interesting thing for me was that now I knew I was going to be happy. Now I just knew that my world would change and that I would be somebody, that I'm somebody important. I mean, after all, now all our clients were Hollywood celebrity movie stars.

Cocaine was not even in the DEA radar during this time. So I was not even feeling guilty about doing anything wrong. I had the business. I had the office. I went to my office every morning at 8 o'clock like I'd done all my life. I put on my suit. And I left the office at 6 o'clock.

And I ran the biggest empire and created the biggest drug empire in America and created the most intricate financial web that there was. But why was I miserable? Why was it that, for example, I remember one time I got a phone call in like, George, the Corvette convertible just came out.

And I mean, I was like so excited. It was like, you know, it was like if it was by Bar Mitzvah or my baptism. And I put on a suit. I put on cologne. I told one of my bodyguards. I said, hey, load up a briefcase with money.

We're going to go find my happiness. And we get to a dealer. And all of a sudden, when I get to a dealer, I see that they got three colors.

And I'm like, what the heck? If my joy is dependent upon one of these colors and I picked the wrong one, how am I going to be happy? So I did what any accountant would do.

I just bought one of each color. And when people would say, well, what's the hardest thing you do every day? George said, well, of course. The hardest decision I make in the morning is what damn car I'm going to drive. And I looked around one day and I had a million dollars worth of cars. And I just couldn't understand why I was not happy. Well, I realized then I was married to one woman. And I'm like, well, I'm a good Cuban guy.

So how can a Cuban guy be just happy with one woman? And I started dating all the most beautiful supermodels in America and I hated them all and could not understand why all of a sudden I hated women, treated them the way I did. I mean, I did not abuse them or anything like that. But just to me, that was just so insignificant when I adored my mother, who was my entire life. And I had the utmost respect in this world. You know, everybody in the world wanted to be like George Valdez. You know, I was considered the most powerful person, well, one of the most powerful in America at that time. And no one even knew that I existed.

But I tell people every day of my life, I would lay down in my bed, wake up in the morning, see the mirror, just did not like what I see. Then one of my associates comes up to me and says, we have an opportunity. The government of Bolivia wants to make a deal with you. So I was in Colombia with the pilots and I showed them what the airstrip was. And I was going to fly back to Nicaragua because I had a meeting with General Somoza where we were going to bring some drugs through Corn Island.

And he was going to send it in in his refrigerator cargo, ships to us. We landed in Colombia and everything was fine. Then all of a sudden, as we loaded up the cocaine, we spent overnight tied up to a tree at night. And we got on the airplane about half an hour afterwards. We lost contact with Colombia because we lost both alternators. And eventually we're over the country of Panama, about 5,000 feet when both engines just went off and we crash landed.

And it was a miracle that we even lived. And we jumped from the airplane and then a military officer came. And I took out $300 and I gave it to him and I said, look, we were looking for cattle ranches and we have problems with the airplane and we crash landed. But all I need to do is if you can take me to a hotel and he'll take my passports, sign them.

And tomorrow I'm going to send someone, I'll have someone come and fix the airplane. He took me to a private office and split us apart. And they came in there and it was the head of the DEA, the General Council of Panama and the head of the G2, which was the intelligence division for Noriega. They lined up all the cocaine in a table. They took pictures of us. When I got to Miami, I was charged with heading the largest drug conspiracy in the history of America and given the highest bond ever in the history of America, $7 million.

I was just 23 years old. And you're listening to the story of George Valdez and what a ride he's taking. And then his life literally comes crashing to the ground in a plane in Panama.

And now he's back in Miami with the highest bail ever posted on a criminal in this country's history, $7 million. When we come back, what happens next in the life of George Valdez here on Our American Stories. For each person living with myasthenia gravis, or MG, their journey with this rare neuromuscular condition is unique. That's why Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis, a new podcast from iHeartRadio in partnership with Argenics, is exploring the extraordinary challenges and personal triumphs of underserved communities living with MG. Host Martine Hackett will share powerful perspectives from people living with the debilitating muscle weakness and fatigue caused by this rare disorder. Each episode will uncover the reality of life with myasthenia gravis. From early signs and symptoms to obtaining an accurate diagnosis and finding care, every person with MG has a story to tell. And by featuring these real-life experiences, this podcast hopes to inspire the MG community, educate others about this rare condition, and let those living with it know that they are not alone.

Listen to Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Welcome to Mile 5033, the first mile of the first road trip with you and your newborn. Thankfully, your Hyundai Tucson has an available 10.25-inch infotainment screen so you can seek out the soothing sounds of nature to keep your kid calm, or whatever else babies are listening to these days. And with available wireless device charging, your phone will stay powered up so you can ask the internet why the baby just made that weird gurgling sound at mile 5062 or that scrunchie face at mile 5103. Because when it comes to navigating the new roads in life, we're thinking of every mile. The new Hyundai Tucson, it's your journey. Test drive the new Tucson at your nearest Hyundai dealer or learn more at HyundaiUSA.com. Introducing new frozen lemonade Starbucks refreshers beverages. Try one of three blends of sweet fruit flavors, real fruit pieces, and lemonade to savor every sip of summer.

Order yours in the Starbucks app. And we return to our American stories and the final portion of our story with George Valdez. He's the author of Coming Clean, the true story of a cocaine drug lord and his unexpected encounter with God. When we last left off, George had been caught with pounds of cocaine in Panama after his plane was forced to crash land in a field. Let's get back to the story. You know, I hired the best lawyers that money could buy.

I hired every name lawyer that you can ever imagine in America. I spent a million dollars at that time. But anyway, it did not matter. I was sentenced to 15 years in jail for conspiracy, which was the most that you could give to anyone because they didn't have a wiretap. They didn't even have the cocaine. The cocaine disappeared the same day.

Noriega sold that quickly. I go off to prison and, you know, people think that prison will change you. Prison doesn't change people. I went off to prison. I was the same guy I always was. When I got out after five years in change, I went back to the same thing. And really, I look back now, there was no need for it. I was a multimillionaire.

I could spend the money that I had. But it was this thing that they thought they had beat me, but I'm going to beat them in the end. And I went back to the same thing, but something very dynamic started to happen right now. And what happened was my mother found out for the first time that I was a drug dealer. All alone before that, all she thought I was an international businessman because I had a lot of business. When she found out, it destroyed her.

It is the most painful thing I ever been through in my life, seeing my mother walk into a courtroom and hearing that her baby kid was charged with being this monster, being the most powerful man in America, you know, heading the largest drug conspiracy in the world. She said, son, you destroyed us. But here's the interesting thing about my mom.

And this is a message that I tell to a lot of parents. My mother, not one single time, would take a dollar from me. My mother, not one single time, stopped telling me that what I was doing didn't please God and that I destroyed them. But in the same breath, my mother would say, well, what do you want for dinner tonight, son? Because she let me know that, yeah, I could become a monster.

I could become whatever. But in her eyes, her God was bigger than anything. And in her eyes, her God would change her child. Forty years later, I see this genius of it because I see we get mad at our kids and we kick them out of the house and we find our children making horrible choices and we call it tough love and it really doesn't work. We gotta be tough, but we gotta love.

So it's not tough love, it's tough, but love. And that's how I raised my children. But, you know, and it went like that and there was not one chance that my mother would not ever stop telling me that. And she's like, son, if I get killed, you kill me because what you do doesn't please God. And I'm like, mom, what God? God ain't real. What was God when we came from Cuba and we were going hungry every day? What was God when you came from Cuba and laid in a hospital dying of throat cancer?

What was God, mom? And I just left and I went back to my operations. One night I'm partying in my house with some movie stars and all of a sudden the head of the security at the gate says, George, your ex-wife just dropped your daughter. And I'm like, my daughter? I said, just bring her over.

So she comes over, I tell the babysitter that live with us, I said, go ahead and put her to bed, make sure she doesn't get out of her room and in the morning I'll have breakfast with her. And I went back to my party, two or three hours later, I hear this knock on my door, I said, daddy, it's Crystal. And for the first time in my life, I began to feel filthy. I began to feel dirty and it was the feeling, the more she knocked, it was almost a feeling that you see your baby child going to drown on a boat and you're reaching out and touch their fingertips and you just can't grab a hold of their hands and I couldn't open the door because if I opened the door, it would contaminate her. I told the woman to get out of my room. They went to get out the door. I said, no, out the window. And when they get out, I went into the shower.

He's a man that never feared anything in his life. All of a sudden, the shower started to shake and I started to tremble, I started to try to scrub the filth off of me, not wondering what the hell was going on in my life. I went underneath my sheets and I began to shake and shimmer and when I calmed down and I was dehydrated, I went to get water and I saw my baby girl in the floor crying. And I said to myself, this will stop today. And I didn't know what change meant. You know, and this is what I tell people, when you know you gotta make a change in your life, don't worry about what that means.

Just know this. For me, it was simple. If I'm going north, I'm gonna start going south.

If I'm going east, I'm gonna start going west. And I called my mother in the middle of the night and I said, mom, I'm done. And she knew what I meant. And she's like, God has answered my prayer. I'm like, God, mom, God has nothing to do with this. This is crystal.

This has nothing to do with God. Or so I thought. And then I called, in the morning, I called the head of the cartel and I said, I'm finished. Now imagine the desperation in my life at this point that I knew that most likely I'd be killed within a month. And I just moved over to my ranch. I sold my house in Miami. And I went to live in my ranch and wait until someone came around.

Didn't care anymore because my desperation was so much that my life just had to find some type of a change. Anyways, I hired this guy to teach me karate. He says, I'm gonna teach you about the sword. And I'm like, man, I done karate a lot when I was younger. And I'm like, man, I'm really smart. I can't believe I hired this guy. I love weapons.

He's not gonna waste his time throwing kicks. We're gonna get into weapons right away. All of a sudden, he turns around and he has a Bible. And I'm like, I look at him and I'm like, sir, first and foremost, I need to tell you two things. Number one, I don't believe in that book.

Number two, I don't believe in God. And number three, I'm paying you a lot of money to teach me karate. So tomorrow, would you please leave that sword home and bring the real sword?

He got up into my face where I could smell his breath and was the first man that had done that. And I said, well, here's a seven degree black belt. You can start whooping Jesus into me and I will be paying for it. So I'm like, hey, dude, dude, don't get excited. Let's just go ahead and wait and go waste your time. And I said, when this team room heats up, you can talk to me, read to me, do whatever you want.

He says, deal. And he read to me for almost three years. And people say, what did he say that made you come around? I said, really, honestly, absolutely nothing.

Because I was just getting over the butt whooping he had given me to even think about what the hell he was talking about. But it was everything that I saw. You see, I saw a man that lived in a very little world.

I saw a man that had a 1,400, 1,500 square foot house and he was so happy that I lived in this $15,000 square foot mansion, I was miserable. I wanted to find out about this God that I didn't know nothing about. And I started to study theology and I taught myself Greek. I ended up getting another bachelor's in prison. And almost five years later, I had started a master's from Wheaton College, graduated. I mean, when I was released, I went to Wheaton College and finished my master's, became an adjunct faculty there, met the most amazing woman on God's earth, my wife of 25 years now. Then from Wheaton College, I decided that I wanted to keep going and I wanted to be the best theologian in the world. And I applied to Loyola and I was accepted and I got a PhD in early Christianity and New Testament and ethics.

And I became one of five Hispanics in America with a PhD in Bible. You know, I'm here to tell the world, listen, the only thing our children need, the only thing our children truly want is their presence. It costs nothing. But we keep and we fall into this horrific cycle of destruction. And like the old saying, Americans are so amazing about sacrificing their health to create wealth. And then they spend their wealth trying to get their health back. And we abandon our family, we abandon our homes, we abandon our wives. And at the end of the day, it doesn't bring us a bit of joy.

We're just as miserable as we ever were. Because there's a hunger within us, inside of us, that to me cannot only be filled with the love of God and whatever God might be to anyone. I talk to people all over the world. I don't care what anybody is. I don't care if they're Jewish. I don't care if they're Muslim. I don't care if they're Christian or atheist.

I don't care if they're straight or gay. All I care to tell people is, listen, I just want to tell you a story about me, my story. Not for you, not for anyone, my story.

My life drastically changed when I fell in love with a Jewish carpenter. So my story is about nothing but falling in love and the fact that there is redemption, that there is hope in this world. And we don't have to sell to that message that, oh, I was a twice convicted drug dealer.

Who's going to hire you? We're not defined by our failures. We're defined by how we get up from our failures. We're not defined by how much wealth we achieve. I think that we're defined by how many lives we impact. At the end of the day, what I tell people is when the pages of history are written, will history ever remember your name? And if we care that history will remember our name, history will only remember our name until we've impacted the life of somebody else, not because we have achieved great wealth, not because we're very rich, not because we have mansions and homes and vacation homes and three or four cars. If all we do is impact the life of our children so that they become decent human beings that believe in integrity, believe in the word, and above all, love others, if I can do that, I've changed the world.

And so can anyone listening today. God bless. And a terrific job on the production and editing by our own Monty Montgomery. And a special thanks to George Valdez. What a story of transformation. Why we do this show, actually, is stories like this.

And the power of God, the power of love could change everything. George Valdez's story here on Our American Stories. For each person living with myasthenia gravis or MG, their journey with this rare condition is unique. That's why Untold Stories, life with myasthenia gravis, a new podcast from iHeartRadio in partnership with Argenics, is exploring the extraordinary challenges and personal triumphs of underserved communities living with MG. Host Martine Hackett will share these powerful perspectives from real people with MG so their experiences can help inspire the MG community and educate others about this rare condition.

Listen to find strength and community on the MG journey on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Now is the time to experience America's pastime in a whole new way. Major League Baseball has teamed up with T-Mobile for Business to advance the game with next-gen 5G solutions, going deeper with real-time data visualization, new camera angles that put fans on the field with their favorite players, and even testing an automated ball strike system in the minor leagues. This is the 5G era of baseball.

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I'm Malcolm Granball. I don't know if you know this about me, but I'm a car nut, and I will do anything to keep my cars happy, to make sure they stay running smoothly. I look for those things at eBay Motors. With eBay Guaranteed Fit, when you see the green check, you know that part will fit. Get the right parts at the right prices. eBayMotors.com. Let's Ride. Eligible items only. Exclusions apply.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-04 04:39:23 / 2023-08-04 05:00:53 / 22

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