Black Market Dealers: Trouble in a Tropical Paradise

As North America continues to grasp the mistake of cannabis prohibition and watches with excitement as economically vibrant dispensaries pop-up on street corners, it’s easy to forget that much of the world population still relies on drug dealers to distribute the local supply of marijuana to the people.

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Being a dealer in the black market pot business can be a quick way to make money, a dangerous undertaking, and usually a mixture of both.

One of the places that marijuana is incredibly prevalent and dealers are still a necessity is in the Caribbean and Central America. These tropical destinations are seen as an oasis by those of us who normally reside in the cold concrete jungles of the Western world. With the influx of tourists and locals looking to unwind with some good chiba, the life of a dealer is hectic, but always interesting. caught up with a cannabis peddler in Costa Rica who was kind enough to (anonymously) tell us what it’s like to deal in paradise.

What does the average day look like for a cannabis dealer in Costa Rica?

I wake up and smoke. Then I see who needs what, how much I have and where I can get more. I then contact my supplier to get more. Then I eat, smoke and go deliver the goods. If I need money, I hustle to sell more.

Do you get marijuana from a number of growers or just one?

It’s good to stick to one but I have options. I work with the ones who give the best deals. It’s all about loyalty and making money.

Is it usually outdoor or indoor grown weed?

Mostly indoor. It’s called Creepy Cali weed, but it depends on the supplier. The dealers that sell “Jamaiquina” are grown outdoors in Jamaica. The shitty weed is called caca de mono, also brought in from Jamaica. It’s mixed with monkey poop to bring it here. With “Jamaiquina” you don’t make much money, you just get a free supply for yourself.

What strains are normally available in Costa Rica?

The three kinds of Jamaican weed are always available. For Creepy, you can usually find the strains White Russian, Moby Dick and Blue Dream — the hardest strains to find are Diesels Girl Scout Cookies and skunks are very easy to get too.

Have you ever been bothered by the police or do they leave you alone?

If you don’t have more than half an ounce on you, they leave you alone. If you are a well-known dealer, they have their eye on you. The dealers that go to the corner to sell are the ones the police know about the most. I don’t go to the corners.

Why do you do this for a living?

I do this to get my stash for free. I’m my own boss, nobody tells me what to do.

You can also make a lot of money if you’re organized and you can smoke weed all day. It gives you an open window to live a lifestyle that not everybody can live.

But it’s always risky. You never know if the police are on your phone, know what you are doing and who you’re messing with.

What’s your biggest challenge as a weed dealer?

Not smoking all my stash and being organized with the stash; most dealers are addicted to what they sell and that’s where they fuck up.

Can you tell me an interesting story that has happened in the process of doing your job?

I was trying to get my hands on a pound of good weed. [I was offered] $4,000 to sell it to some clients who I hosted an event for.

My client wanted to go to the supplier’s place to see when he weighed it, so that it was the right amount and no supplier I knew was into that.

When I found a supplier who would do the deal, we went to the dealer’s place and parked the car in front of the house. [The client, the driver and I] got out of the car and the driver was the last to walk in the front door of the house. He had a backpack, which I thought was for the marijuana.

When we got inside, the driver pulled out a shotgun and robbed the supplier of all the shit in his house, including the weed, liquor, PlayStation, phones, money, and some laptops. They drove off and the supplier thought I had set him up but I didn’t. We told him it wasn’t like that and we’d pay him for the weed he stole, which was $4,000.

We took a lot of time paying in little amounts, but nothing that came close to covering the debt. So I had to hide and try to talk to them to meet up and work it out. We met up and I let them know that I was not going to the police and that I was going to take care of the debt with the condition they didn’t come after me or my family.

Four months after that, the guy I owed the debt to got tired of waiting and gave me a week to find the money. One week later I get a call from my friend asking me to come to a park near his house to meet up with some guys. When I got there, there were two hitmen waiting. They knew everything about my life, my family, my house, my work. They charged an extra $2,000 more to my debt and gave me two weeks to pay it off, so $6,000 now.

We tried to get the money from everybody. I called a guy in prison who owns half the ghetto, but no one would help us so I turned to my wealthy father-in-law. He helped me with half the amount and told me he would put me on a bus or plane next day after the payment. I told him yes but I knew I wouldn’t leave.

We paid [the hitmen] the half and gave them merchandise worth the other half. They let us pay it off and go. I moved away a little while later.

Costa Rica is thankfully one of the forward-thinking countries of the world that realizes violence and crime like this are born from decades of failed drug policy.

In January of 2016, a landmark court decision opened the door to Costa Ricans being allowed to grow their own for personal use. The tropical nation is also on its way to legalizing medical marijuana.

Photo courtesy of Isaac Villalta

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