Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Stoned Arms Dealer - Rolling Stone article, go read it

Remember $300 million given to a 22 year old with criminal record... for military supplies - the FULL story?

Rolling Stone has a followup.

This... this is surreal.

Dinner was at Sushi Samba, a hipster Asian-Latino fusion joint. Packouz was in excellent spirits. He couldn't believe that he and Diveroli were actually pulling it off: Planes from all over Eastern Europe were now flying into Kabul, laden with millions of dollars worth of grenades and mortars and surface-to-air missiles. But as Packouz's miso-marinated Chilean sea bass arrived, his cellphone rang. It was the freight forwarder he had employed to make sure the ammunition made it from Hungary to Kabul. The man sounded panicked.

"We've got a problem," he told Packouz, shouting to be heard over the restaurant's thumping music. "The plane has been seized on the runway in Kyrgyzstan."

The arms shipment, it appeared, was being used as a bargaining chip in a high-stakes standoff between George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin. The Russian president didn't like NATO expanding into Kyrgyzstan, and the Kyrgyzs wanted the U.S. government to pay more rent to use their airport as a crucial supply line for the war in Afghanistan. Putin's allies in the Kyrgyz KGB, it seemed, were holding the plane hostage — and Packouz was going to be charged a $300,000 fine for every day it sat on the runway. Word of the seizure quickly reached Washington, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates himself was soon on his way to Kyrgyzstan to defuse the mounting tensions.

Packouz was baffled, stoned and way out of his league. "It was surreal," he recalls. "Here I was dealing with matters of international security, and I was half-baked. I didn't know anything about the situation in that part of the world. But I was a central player in the Afghan war — and if our delivery didn't make it to Kabul, the entire strategy of building up the Afghanistan army was going to fail. It was totally killing my buzz. There were all these shadowy forces, and I didn't know what their motives were. But I had to get my shit together and put my best arms-dealer face on."

Sitting in the restaurant, Packouz tried to clear his head, cupping a hand over his cellphone to shut out the noise. "Tell the Kyrgyz KGB that ammo needs to get to Afghanistan!" he shouted into the phone. "This contract is part of a vital mission in the global war on terrorism. Tell them that if they fuck with us, they are fucking with the government of the United States of America!"

This makes me wonder - why am I working for a measly $1+ per minute (a lowball consulting rate) when these yahoos were making circa 300 million for this arms deal?

And they have done it on sheer chutzpah.

I feel like an idiot.

This whole honest working for a living model is definitely not part of the American dream.

Actually... looking at the histories of the great American elite families, like the Kennedys and the Bushes, whose ancestors made money in shady and/or illegal ways (cough Prohibition alcohol smuggling for starters or better yet trading with Nazis), it never really was - except for suckers.

I blame my parents for raising me to be an ethical and moral man.

Those are really holding me back in this country, to my great personal detriment.

Thanks, mom and dad!

Packouz was intrigued. He was doing some online business himself, buying sheets from textile companies in Pakistan and reselling them to distributors that supplied nursing homes in Miami. The sums he made were tiny — a thousand or two at a time — but the experience made him hungry for more.

"How much money are you making, dude?" Packouz asked.

"Serious money," Diveroli said.

"How much?"

"This is confidential information," Diveroli said.

"Dude, if you had to leave the country tomorrow, how much would you be able to take?"

"In cash?"

"Cold, hard cash."

Diveroli pulled the car over and turned to look at Packouz. "Dude, I'm going to tell you," he said. "But only to inspire you. Not because I'm bragging." Diveroli paused, as if he were about to disclose his most precious secret. "I have $1.8 million in cash."

Packouz stared in disbelief. He had expected Diveroli to say something like $100,000, maybe a little more. But nearly $2 million?

"Dude," was all Packouz said.

I am now banging my head against the table (after moving the keyboard away).

I am a total idiot. I am over 30, and not even close to my first million.

1 comment:

Your Truly said...

Well, dude. You'd be a putz doin' all that sh*t & you could end up bein' deep-6ed by other fellow putz.

Cheer up, you're definitely makin' more money than yours truly (for the moment).