Smuggler: Roger Reaves a Memoir
by Roger Reaves
Marrie J Reaves Publishing (2016)
Smuggler is an extremely unusual memoir by a 73 year old American who is currently serving a life sentence in Australia for drug smuggling. Written over fifteen years, it’s a highly detailed, journal-like memoir painting the author’s journey from excruciating rural poverty to high rolling international drug smuggler.
The reader comes away with the clear sense that despite government efforts to portray Reaves as a dangerous blood thirsty king pin, he was actually a lowly middleman who was regularly cheated and manipulated by the real king pins who engaged his services. While Reeves was highly successful (bringing in millions a month) during the first decade and a half of his career, a pattern emerged in which his clients routinely weasled out of paying him, shortchanged him on the quanity and/or quality of drugs they asked him to traffic, and/or provided him with mechanically faulty and dangerous aircraft and boats. Towards the end of his career, some were actively colluding with the DEA and FBI to entrap him.
Owing to the illegal nature of marijuana and cocaine trafficking a person has no comeback – except murder or serious physical injury – if a colleague cheats them. As the highly personal memoir makes clear, it wasn’t in Reaves’s nature to engage in lethal retaliation. This, perhaps, explains his failure to rise to the ranks of vicious psychopaths like Pablo Escobar.
For me the most interesting part of the book is the section where Reaves talks about his relationship with Barry Seal and the guaranteed “no-interception” cocaine delivery operation he had going at the Mena Airport – with the active approval and support of Arkansas governor Bill Clinton and Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush.
According to Reaves, there were only two delivery points in the US where traffickers could unload a shipment with absolute guarantee that neither Customs nor the DEA would bust them. Mena was one of them.
Reaves believes strongly that the War on Drugs is a racket perpetuated mainly for the benefit of Wall Street and illegal CIA military interventions. He advocates for the US and its allies to follow the example of Portugal, which has decriminalized all drugs. In Portugal, where possession of three grams of any drug is treated as a spot fine, crime rates have plummeted since the policy was implement in 2001 (see The Cato Institute and the Drug War).