Javier Peña and Steve Murphy (@deanarcos) are former DEA agents best known for bringing down Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in the ’90s, as dramatized on the first two seasons of Netflix series Narcos and chronicled in their book Manhunters: How We Took Down Pablo Escobar.
What We Discuss with Javier Peña and Steve Murphy:
- How do you conduct an effective investigation against a murderous yet charismatic criminal on their home turf with a $300,000 bounty on your head?
- Why was there such friction between the DEA and the CIA during the Pablo Escobar investigation?
- Why do countries like Mexico and Colombia resist extradition to the United States when we catch a big fish drug trafficker?
- Have Javier and Steve been back to Colombia since bringing down Pablo Escobar, or do they still have to fear for their lives there?
- Do Javier and Steve see the permanent dismantling of drug cartels as a possibility, or are they too entrenched in the infrastructure of the countries where they thrive?
- And much more…
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How do you carry on an effective investigation in a country where people are willing to kill and die for the person you’re trying to catch and chances are good the local law enforcement you rely on to have your back is directly reporting to that person? Former DEA agents Javier Peña and Steve Murphy know all too well, as outlined in their book Manhunters: How We Took Down Pablo Escobar and dramatized on the first two seasons of Netflix series Narcos.
In this episode, we’ll discuss what it was like to chase the slippery drug kingpin responsible for thousands of deaths yet hailed as some kind of folk hero among many in the late ’80s and early ’90s before finally ending his reign on a bloody Medellín rooftop with hefty credit to the loyal National Police of Colombia. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Miss the show we did with Frank Abagnale — the former con artist who was played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie Catch Me If You Can? Catch up here with episode 1: Frank Abagnale | Scam Me If You Can!
THANKS, JAVIER PEÑA AND STEVE MURPHY!
If you enjoyed this session with Javier Peña and Steve Murphy, let them know by clicking on the link below and sending them a quick shout out at Twitter:
Click here to thank Javier Peña and Steve Murphy at Twitter!
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Resources from This Episode:
- Manhunters: How We Took Down Pablo Escobar by Steve Murphy and Javier Peña
- Narcos | Netflix
- DEA Narcos | Website
- DEA Narcos | Twitter
- DEA Narcos | Facebook
- DEA Narcos | Instagram
- Pablo Escobar | Wikipedia
- Kiki Camarena | Wikipedia
- Search Bloc | Wikipedia
- Los Pepes | Wikipedia
- Manuel Noriega: Call of Duty, the Invasion Playlist, and His Preteen Pen Pal | The Mercury News
- How Medellin Went from Murder Capital to Hipster Holiday Destination | The Telegraph
Transcript for Javier Peña and Steve Murphy | Taking Down Pablo Escobar (Episode 453)
Jordan Harbinger: Coming up on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:02] Javier Peña: I helped arrest a 15-year-old thug sicario and he told me, "I worked for Pablo Escobar." He says, "I will die and kill for Pablo Escobar." And he admitted already that he had killed 10 police officers at a hundred dollars a head. And then he said, "You know what? I will be dead by 22, 23 years old. So I'm going to work. I love my boss and I will die and kill for him." So that was the attitude.
[00:00:31] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of some of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with people at the top of their game — astronauts, entrepreneurs, spies, psychologists, even the occasional arms dealer, drug trafficker, money-laundering expert. Each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical thinker.
[00:00:58] If you're new to the show or looking for a handy way to tell your friends about it, which we always appreciate, we now have episodes starter pack. These are collections of your favorite episodes organized by popular topics. To help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show. Just go to jordanharbinger.com/start to get started or to help someone else get started here with us.
[00:01:20] Now, today, on the show we have Steve Murphy and Javier Peña. If that sounds familiar, that's because those are the DEA agents that were in charge of tracking down and stopping Pablo Escobar with the help of the Colombian National Police, of course. And the reason you may have heard their names is because of Narcos on Netflix. So these are the real guys behind the guys — these are the real agents that that story is about. And as you might know, from Netflix by watching it, that is a true story or based on a true story. If you didn't know that well, you're in for a treat because these guys are the real deal. During this time — there's so many incredible stories from these guys.
[00:01:58] First of all, Pablo Escobar had killed most of the members of the Colombian Supreme Court. He killed people in the government, in the justice department, pretty much anyone that stood in his way. He's responsible for like 30,000 murders or something insane like that. During his reign, Medellín was so dangerous. That these agents, Steve and Javier, were only able to stay a few days at a time. They had to move around a lot. I mean, these are DEA agents for crying out loud. Pablo Escobar, of course, then essentially goes to war with Colombia.
[00:02:27] Here's how much of a charmer this guy is. He's threatening one of the police colonels that's chasing him and he says, "I'll kill three generations of your family. I'll dig up your grandparents and shoot them and bury them again." So this is the kind of person that these guys were tasked with chasing down and somehow bringing to justice. And this is a super interesting story to hear firsthand, especially after watching Narcos on Netflix. If you haven't seen that, definitely watch it. The hype is real. I loved the series. If you haven't seen it, go ahead and tune in here and then get ready for a great binge just in time to start off — or hopefully end the rest of our lockdown here with a good old Netflix binge. Similar to what you did all of last year, I assume.
[00:03:08] If you're wondering how I managed to book all these great authors, thinkers, and celebrities every single week, it is because of my network. And I'm teaching you how to build your network for free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. And by the way, many of the guests on the show, they've contributed to the course in some way. So come join us, you'll be in smart company. Now, here we go with Steve Murphy and Javier Peña, the real-life Narcos.
[00:03:31] Thanks for coming to the show guys. It's kind of cool to have you both here at once.
[00:03:34] Steve Murphy: Well, thank you, Jordan. We're happy to be here with you
[00:03:37] Javier Peña: Also, am I. Thank you, Jordan.
[00:03:40] Jordan Harbinger: I know this is an involved question here, but how did you guys end up chasing Pablo Escobar in the first place? Was he on your radar before? Or was it like Pablo, who? Yeah, let me look into this guy. And then it just turned out to be the biggest narco-terrorist the world has ever known.
[00:03:54] Javier Peña: Basically, I got there in 88. And I had heard of Pablo Escobar. I didn't really know who he was just. I came out of Austin, Texas. The first couple of days on the job, my bosses were assigning me to the Pablo Escobar investigation. There was a senior agent. She was getting ready to leave. I started researching him, trying to get involved with the case. And then, all of a sudden, it's like Pablo Escobar — this is like the biggest trafficker in the world we had ever seen. So it was a learning process, learning what Pablo Escobar was and what he was all about.
[00:04:30] Jordan Harbinger: And when you say we got there, you mean Colombia, or were you guys in El Paso? Where were you guys?
[00:04:36] Javier Peña: Yep. I was in Austin, Texas, and I got there, Colombia, in 1988
[00:04:41] Steve Murphy: And I was down in Miami from '87 to '91. And then June '91, arrived in Colombia.
[00:04:46] Jordan Harbinger: I assume if you were in Miami, in the late '80s, everybody thought your job was basically like Don Johnson from Miami Vice.
[00:04:52] Steve Murphy: Oh, you mean, I don't look like him still?
[00:04:53] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Well, I mean, I don't know what he looks like now but—
[00:04:57] Steve Murphy: A lot better than this guy.
[00:05:01] Jordan Harbinger: So I assume at this point in the '80s, growing up the way you guys did, which is explained in the book, you probably hadn't done a ton of international travel to exotic places like Colombia, by that time in your life, in your 20s or whatever.
[00:05:13] Javier Peña: Yeah, I had never been out of the country. I think my first experience was also in the chase of our fallen agent, Kiki Camarena. I was brand new on the job when I was called to go help on the search in Mazatlán, Mexico. So that was my first experience. I went there without a passport. So that'll tell you.
[00:05:32] Jordan Harbinger: They just — well, how do you get into a country without a passport?
[00:05:36] Javier Peña: Driver's license. This was back in the '80. I just had a driver's license. They let me in.
[00:05:42] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that makes sense. I think even when I was younger, you could drive to Canada and Mexico and they would just say, "Oh, you're American. No problem." And then now it's—
[00:05:48] Javier Peña: Right.
[00:05:49] Jordan Harbinger: —not quite the same deal. You're chasing the guys who had abducted Kiki Camarena. Can you tell us like the 10,000-foot overview of what that was? Because I think people who haven't seen Narcos or it's been a minute, they may have never heard that name.
[00:06:01] Javier Peña: Yeah. Kiki Camarena really was our first DEA agent that was kidnapped by Mexican traffickers. He was working on a case that was going to put a lot of people in jail. They found out it was Camarena. So basically he got kidnapped and then all of a sudden we could not get any assistance from the Mexican government. We finally — I think it was President Reagan. They closed the border down and then we got the assistance we needed. Then it was just a tragic story. He was tortured. They will not let him die. They will pump adrenaline into him to beat him up some more, asking more questions. Bottom line, it was a terrible death. It was torture. They tortured an American DEA agent. And then the search was on for the guy who orchestrated it, who was a guy by the name of Miguel Caro Quintero. He was put in jail. He has thus now escaped and he is on the run. That's a travesty.
[00:06:57] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. So he's out and just freely floating around — where? Mexico, probably at this point, I guess. We don't know.
[00:07:03] Javier Peña: Well, they're saying they're searching for him. I don't think so. I'll be honest. They know where he is. He's bought too many people off — you know with the corruption and that's the travesty as I mentioned.
[00:07:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, Looking at the Camarena case. It's a nightmare-feel. So if you're at home wondering about that, think twice before you get into the details on it, because you can't unlearn that stuff.
[00:07:26] When you guys found out about what they did to him, you were in your 20s, right? So were you like, "Let's go get these sons of bitches," or were you like, "Ugh, I really don't want this to happen to me"? Because it's terrifying. Like it's really disgusting what they did to him. And if you've ever seen a cartel video on the Internet, it's that times 10, right? I mean, it's just disgusting.
[00:07:45] Steve Murphy: Well, for me, I was still a local cop when Kiki was murdered. It didn't have much impact on my life back then. But you know, when I came on DEA in '87 and then ended up in Colombia in '91, it was encouraging to see that tracking down Kiki's murderers was still a priority within the agency. And you know what, to this day here we are at the end of 2020, it's still a priority.
[00:08:05] Javier Peña: And I had one year on the job. I had just become an agent in 1984. I barely had a year when I got the call from my boss. I didn't know anything about — you know, "Hey, go to Mexico. We need help." I speak Spanish. I learned a lot, saw a lot, and like I said, it was just that violent, not letting a person die. They would — that's what really takes everybody out. They just kept him alive so they could beat him up some more.
[00:08:33] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh, yeah, it's nasty. And we can link to the Wikipedia entry on that in the show notes because if you find the wrong description, it'll keep you up at night.
[00:08:42] Steve Murphy: It's pretty horrific.
[00:08:42] Jordan Harbinger: It is. It really is. And I know that when you started going after a Pablo in Colombia, there were threats to your lives. I kind of wanted to get an overview of what it's like when the most notorious drug dealer in the entire world is looking for you personally. Right? Not just like, "Hey, stop them from getting me." But they're like these two — you know, "Get these two jokers," and the bounty on your head was $300,000 or something like that if memory serves.
[00:09:08] Steve Murphy: Yeah. And just keep in mind, they didn't hire us because we have the brightest bulbs on the tree. Okay. Well, Javier was. You know, when you get to Colombia, when you get to these foreign offices, you don't know which case you're going to be assigned to. And of course, I came into a great position because Javier had already been there three years when I arrived in 1991. He had already been working the case for three years. I knew who Pablo was based on investigations in South Florida, but I'd never had a case that got me up to that level. You know? So I come in and team up with Javier and another guy Gary Sheridan.
[00:09:41] And I say it's a great position because they had already earned the respect and trust of the Colombian National Police. And simply because I was their partner, I was accepted in. I still had to earn their respect. It was a great position to come into. And that was one of the first things they told me when I started working with Javier and Gary is, "You just need to know there's a price tag on your head now." "Oh, really? How much is that?" And they told you, and it was $300,000. And I mean, to be quite honest with you, it will cause you to pause for a minute and think about it and not trying to sound macho. I mean, there's nothing special about Javier. We don't pretend to be tough guys or anything like that. We're just actually a couple of small-town country boys who got to work a really big criminal case.
[00:10:20] But, you know, in law enforcement, you're already very aware of your surroundings. Now, it's like hypervigilance that you're aware all the time of what's going on because you can't even go shopping. I don't blend into a Hispanic community.
[00:10:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. For those of you who are not watching us on YouTube, but actually are just listening to the podcast. You're a pretty white dude. And you probably had — what? Do you have blonde hair back then, like the guy who played you in the series, or was that just for the movies?
[00:10:47] Steve Murphy: No, I had light brown hair, but my heritage is English and Irish. I'm about as white as you get, you know?
[00:10:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Walking around with a sunburn and everything. Yeah.
[00:10:56] Steve Murphy: Light-colored eyes. And I'm six foot two, which makes you taller than most men in Colombia. I stuck out. It was obvious
[00:11:03] Jordan Harbinger: And this is 300,000 in '80s money, right?
[00:11:06] Steve Murphy: It was.
[00:11:06] Jordan Harbinger: Or '90s money?
[00:11:07] Steve Murphy: It was in the '90s. And I mean, during our speaking events, what I like to tell people is that the biggest threat I faced from that bounty is that my wife would kill me in my sleep because I was worth more dead than I was alive.
[00:11:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it's about $600,000 in today's money. It's actually more than that. So depending on which year we're talking about. If we're talking 1991, it's like $600,000. That's somebody who's going to get that in Colombia. That's probably more than they would make in their entire life. Maybe working a normal job in Colombia. So that's scary. That probably would be like having a five or 10 million-dollar bounty on your head here in the United States, except for inland that's essentially lawless and full of narco-traffickers. So yeah, you can't even go to the grocery store. You can't go downstairs, grab a beer. You can't get up at night and go outside and walk the dog. If you have one, you can't really do much of anything in. Which one of you had the fancy apartment downtown where you'd bring girls back all the time? I assume that ended pretty abruptly.
[00:12:02] Javier Peña: Come on, Jordan, of course, that's me, man. Come on, man. I'll give you a little credit here, buddy. When I got there the first time, man, it was a — I came from — I had a little one-bedroom apartment living in Austin, Texas. I think when I got to Austin, there was a move-in special or 250 bucks a month. So you can tell what my little apartment was. So Bogotá when I got there — says, "Javier, you're going to be living here." "Like what?" And I still remember the living room. It was all glass, mountains on one side, you had the city on the other side, I was on the 18th floor. In Bogotá weather is always at nighttime that is coldish in the 50s, 60s. It had a great fireplace. And I think even back then, '88, the rent they were paying was like, 2500 or 3000 bucks a month.
[00:12:51] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. That's a lot today.
[00:12:52] Javier Peña: And this is in Colombia. Yeah. It was like a penthouse.
[00:12:55] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:12:56] Javier Peña: It had a maid's quarters. I'm by myself. So I was, of course, elated. It was a great apartment. You know, you can't afford data where I would come from.
[00:13:07] Jordan Harbinger: No
[00:13:07] Steve Murphy: But you had to move twice. Didn't you?
[00:13:09] Javier Peña: Yeah, yeah. That's yeah. Yeah. I'm sorry. The point of the story is, yeah, I had to move up twice, one of them — and it was kind of — I'll never forget my boss calls me up and he was a great — he is a great guy, Bruce Stock. And he's been around the foreign arena for a long time. He knows foreign stuff. So anyway, he's just, "Javier, just don't panic. Just get in your—" I had an old Bronco bulletproofs. "Get your gun, get your Bronco, and come to the embassy. I'll explain here, but get out of there right away." And when he said right away, I said, "Yes, boss, I am getting out of here." And I remember I'm nervous. I'm like, "What do I watching? Who's watching me?" And you know, the apartments were — the garages are like two floors. So I think I hit the Bronco about three or four times trying to get out of there.
[00:13:57] At the embassy, they're waiting for me. They opened up the gate and I went in and now they tell me, "Hey, they intercepted a phone conversation," were some of Pablo's sicarios were going to come after me. And we're not sure it was just to kill, to kidnap, to send me a message. We're not sure, but you know what? I don't care. We got out of there right away.
[00:14:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Especially after the Camarena case, you don't want to find out what they're going to do.
[00:14:23] Javier Peña: Right.
[00:14:24] Jordan Harbinger: You kind of have to assume the worst, even if they drive you around the block and they say, "Hey, you're going to book the next flight home."
[00:14:29] Javier Peña: Right.
[00:14:29] Jordan Harbinger: Not really a gamble you want to take.
[00:14:31] Javier Peña: No, you don't want to be around there. So I went back to the embassy and the next thing I learned that the threat was real and it came off of intercept. So yeah, that's serious.
[00:14:40] Jordan Harbinger: Right. It wasn't somebody who sent a letter to the embassy. It was something—
[00:14:43] Javier Peña: Right.
[00:14:43] Jordan Harbinger: —what they thought was a private conversation.
[00:14:45] So at that age, are you kind of more afraid of the sicarios, or are you more afraid that you're going to miss out on some of the action? Because I know in my 20s I would have been like, "Oh, come on. I'm invincible, it'll be fine. Let me go chase these guys."
[00:14:59] Javier Peña: You know what? For me, they just moved into an apartment and says, "All right. Javier, get back to Medellín." So it was basically, "All right, yeah, we got your new place, but you're still involved, which is good. I never thought of it — because the worst that could have happened is they could have sent me home back to the States in '91. I'm like what you said, Jordan, I was a little younger and I wanted to stay in the chase. So I'm glad I didn't get sent home.
[00:15:26] Jordan Harbinger: Who was it that got trapped by the Renault auto in the book? Because a book alternates between your two stories. So, you know, I'm a little fuzzy on what crazy things happen to which one are you? So you might have to straighten me out here. But there was one of you with — I think, was it your wife, you were with? And you got trapped by a car and this is right afterwards, right after Kiki. And so it's like, "What's going to happen?" Which one of you was that?
[00:15:48] Steve Murphy: Well, that was me.
[00:15:48] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:15:49] Steve Murphy: My wife was in the car with us and it wasn't after Kiki, but we were part of the Search Bloc. You know, we were living in Medellín at the time and I'd come home for a few days working in the embassy. And you know what? It wasn't anything more than a traffic dispute. It was road rage. That's basically what it was. When the guys blocked us off, the three guys — you know, my wife and I almost hit them. And I had a full-size Bronco, the old-style Broncos that were huge. And it's armor-plated, and it's got the bulletproof glass and everything. But when these guys got out, they wanted to fight. And when they would raise their arms, you could see pistols in their belts. And I'm sitting inside my Bronco with a gun in my hand. They can't see it, of course, but you know, I've got my wife with me. She's got her dress and heels on. We've been at the embassy. I called for backup on our radios. Still to this day, I'm still waiting on the patrols to arrive there. They never showed up.
[00:16:40] And luckily for us, a police patrol, motorcycle patrol of about 10 Colombian National Police officers came riding by. So I laid on the horn — but the funny thing about that story is that my wife, she's a tough girl. I mean, she's never been bash about adventure. And after we'd been sitting there for about 10 or 15 minutes, she looked over and she said, "Hey, if you can take those two, I'll take that little one right there. I'll take care of him." But of course, you're not going to expose your wife to danger like that.
[00:17:07] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:17:07] Steve Murphy: And they have weapons. So anyway, the police turned around and came back. And by the time I got out of the Bronco to go talk to the sergeant in charge of the patrol, these three guys had already gone over and — "You know, it's a screen go over here and he's causing problems and he's doing this, that and the other." And so the sergeant started giving me a rough time and I pulled up my Colombian National Police ID and said, "Look at the position of the cars. I'm not blocking them. They're blocking me. They actually had me blocked sideways in front of the Bronco." I said, "If we got a problem here, let's call General Montenegro."
[00:17:38] He was one of the Colombia police officers that we work with on a regular basis and that got everybody's attention. And then I pulled up my military ID, Colombian Military ID, and showed him that General's name. And these were three young military guys that just — they thought I'd done something wrong towards them driving down the road. They almost pulled out in front of me is what happened. And I blew the horn at him. So after that, it was a lot of, "Lo siento, mucho, señor. We don't want any problems. Can we just go now?"
[00:18:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:18:05] Steve Murphy: And so it all worked out, but you know, being a member of the Bloc, you never know, is that some of Pablo's sicarios? Is that somebody who's looking for Javier and they found Steve instead, you know? So you didn't know quite sure what you were getting into.
[00:18:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Every little kind of altercation or strange scenario, you guys probably had to be thinking, "Okay, is this just a guy who's had too many beers?" Or, is this somebody who's a distraction or supposed to rope me into going outside — taking this outside, and then I get jumped by five guys. I mean, are you kind of always on your guard at this point for every little scenario?
[00:18:41] Javier Peña: Yeah, at that time, everything even in — you know what, there's a great example is at the Search Bloc. In this sense, we're out — I think it was on a Friday night. Steve wasn't there at that time, but I was there and there was a little burger joint, beers, you know, we'd go out there and it was right outside the Search Bloc, which is our base. You know, half a block anyway. So we're there drinking some beer, eating burgers, and then all of a sudden, there's road blockers. They're checking, even the neighbors who are coming in, who's coming out. Somebody fires a shot. There's a shot that gets fired in the two guys who are at the stop, they're checking IDs. They're checking IDs and they're 200 cover Colombian cops, you know, playing clothes. So they hear the shop, they pull their gun. So the uniform guys checking the search, the roadblock basically points to the gun firefight starts. The shooting starts. I'll never forget. I'm eating a burger. I'm drinking a beer. I hid behind the car.
[00:19:45] There's two CIA guys with me and they said, "Okay, Peña, we're going to run down this alley to go back to the school." I said, "Buddy, if you run down that alley, you will be shot. Right now, nobody knows who's bad guys or the good guys. If I was you, I'd stay here with me until—" So they decided to stay and I think I saved their lives that night. The way they were going to be running the alley, they'd be shot. But anyway, when it was all over, there were like three police officers dead—
[00:20:11] Jordan Harbinger: Oh wow.
[00:20:11] Javier Peña: Because of the friendly fire that nobody knew who was shooting at, who — you know, when gunfire erupts, everybody pulls out guns and starts shooting, you know, not knowing — there was a lot of unknown people at the base. So like I said, that was just one incident where something triggered a chaotic situation.
[00:20:31] Jordan Harbinger: So the moral of this story is if you hear gunshots, don't try and run around and find where they're coming from. Even if you're armed, just take cover and sit quietly.
[00:20:40] Javier Peña: Yeah, take cover and see what's going to happen. Find out what's going on. That's the moral of the story. Yes, sir.
[00:20:46] Jordan Harbinger: So every time you guys are out, you're running into potential issues here. How often did you guys have issues like this? I mean, it seems like, from the book, it seems like you, every week, some crazy thing happened down there. Or were you down there for years and this is just all compacted into, you know, 200, 300 pages
[00:21:04] Steve Murphy: While we were in Medellín after Escobar escaped, it was almost every day. I mean, it's just too much to put into a book.
[00:21:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah,
[00:21:10] Steve Murphy: But we're flying out on the Huey helicopter gunships on daily basis, going out on raids. We're going out with the plainclothes police officers doing surveillance, meeting informants. Javier and I, we were manning the 800 tip line there. The United States was offering a five-million-dollar reward. So we were kind of running that thing and, you know, informants are people with information, they didn't want to come to the base. So we'd have to go out and meet them. We'd go out with the Colombian National Police when they'd make payments to informants so that there was no question that they didn't steal the money. We've confirmed that the money was paid to an informant. I mean, you were going out every day on something.
[00:21:47] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:21:47] Javier Peña: Operations and search warrants, you know, it was a daily occurrence. And Escobar on a daily basis was doing something like you would say, "What did he do today? There's something that you never really expect and just real quick — and I'm sure we'll get into it later — but you know, the famous, the bombing of a commercial airline, killing of a presidential candidate. They'll put in a bomb at the newspaper editor because they wrote a bad story on him. I mean, it was like, "What did he do today?" And that was the norm of the day. Then, like Steve said all the assassins — what was the weekend rate for homicides in Medellín was 300 to 400.
[00:22:29] Steve Murphy: Yeah, there were times when there were as many as 300 murders in a two-day period.
[00:22:34] Javier Peña: That's insane.
[00:22:35] Jordan Harbinger: Unbelievable. That's like Iraq or something — probably even worse actually.
[00:22:39] Javier Peña: Well, I think it was worse than Beirut and their favorite way of killing people was two guys on the motorcycle. So if he saw two guys or a motorcycle coming to you, you better run. The guy in the back would shoot. They would take off in and out of traffic. They never got caught.
[00:22:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That still is effective. I mean, we heard about an assassination recently in Iran. I don't know if you guys read the news, but it looks like Israel killed a couple of people, one that was related to, I think Al-Qaeda and another one that was a nuclear scientist. At least one of them was killed in the same way, two guys on a motorcycle. It's just kind of a timeless way of getting around and doing something like that and then just taken off because you don't if you don't get stuck in traffic and you can move around really quickly.
[00:23:22] Steve Murphy: Right.
[00:23:22] Jordan Harbinger: By the way, you mentioned Search Bloc. And I think a lot of people don't necessarily know what that is. That's the name of what? The military unit that was tasked with finding Pablo Escobar. Is that what that was?
[00:23:32] Steve Murphy: No, that was the—
[00:23:33] Jordan Harbinger: Police unit.
[00:23:34] Steve Murphy: That was the police unit that was created by the Colombian government, consisted of about 600 personnel with one mission. And that was to try to find and take down Pablo Escobar and his organization. Now, in addition to the Colombian National Police, the Colombian military had elements that would come out and support the Search Bloc. Then, of course, Javier and I were there for DEA. We had representatives from the S Army's Delta Force and US Navy SEAL Team Six with us for 18 months. The CA would come and go. It was better when they went, but not so good when they came, but they were there occasionally. There were a lot of different elements there, but their primary force was the Colombian National Police.
[00:24:12] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:24:13] Javier Peña: And like Steve said, their only job was to go after Pablo Escobar and the other factor is you have the uniformed guys who did the raids. And then you had the plainclothes, like detectives that Steve and I work with. There were the intelligence guys, but they were in plainclothes. And there was a specialized group out of Bogotá that was selected. These guys were all handpicked. You know, they got the best of the best. And that's one of the reasons all of this work because at the beginning we had a lot of corruption and the problem was we selected people that were from Medellín. So, Pablo Escobar, I mean, what did he do? He got to their family.
[00:24:52] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:24:53] Javier Peña: "If your kid doesn't call me, warn me, I will kill your kid and I will kill you all." So we quickly learned that a lot of information was getting back to Pablo Escobar right away. So we try to, just to bring people that were not from Medellín.
[00:25:09] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guests, Steve Murphy and Javier Peña. We'll be right back.
[00:25:15] This episode is sponsored in part by Echelon Fit. So it's the new year, you all know that happy new year. And what this means is the time for some fitness. And I don't mean fit this entire pizza into my belly. I've been pretty much eating non-stop crap for the last couple of weeks. So I need to hit it again and I need to hit those fitness goals. Echelon can help you get there. Exelon offers fitness bikes, fitness mirrors, which is like you work out in front of it while an instructor guides you through rowing machines. They have Echelon strides, smart treadmills. So no matter what your favorite fitness activity is, Echelon gives you a fun and challenging workout from the comfort of home. No excuses when you can wake up and do your workout right there in the living room, Exelon has world-class instructors that will motivate you with thousands of daily live and on-demand studio-level classes always available whenever you need them. What's more, is you can try any Echelon fitness equipment at home for 30 days.
[00:26:06] Jen Harbinger: Go to echelonfit.com/jordan. That's E-C-H-E-L-O-N-fit.com/jordan.
[00:26:13] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Grammarly. This is funny. Jen and I talk about this all the time. How this was a tool — when I first heard of it, I thought it was like the silliest thing in the world. Who would need this? Who needs word suggestions? I use Grammarly all the time. So what Grammarly does is it essentially looks in your email, your Google Docs, anywhere you're typing that you want to on your computer, and it will show you your writing score, vocabulary suggestions, clarity, and checks the tone. It can even check for plagiarism. I use this so much. I never thought I would do — I'm basically a walking dictionary now, and I've plugged this into my web browser. I use it in my email. It gives you real-time feedback. You don't have to run it or anything. So if you're a nerd like me and you want to sound smarter than you, I highly recommend this by the way. And they have a great premium level as well.
[00:26:59] Jen Harbinger: Elevate your writing with 20 percent off Grammarly Premium by signing up at grammarly.com/jordan. That's 20 percent off Grammarly Premium, G-R-A-M-M-A-R-L-Y.com/jordan.
[00:27:10] Jordan Harbinger: And now back to Steve Murphy and Javier Peña on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:27:16] How do you investigate someone like that in a country where you don't even know who you can trust, even when it comes to government law enforcement? I don't know if you guys have heard of Ed Calderon. He was on the show. He said something like 30 percent of Mexican police and law enforcement today is corrupted and on the take from the cartels. So I can imagine what it was like in Medellín in the '80s and '90s.
[00:27:36] Steve Murphy: I'm surprised that that 30 percent is not higher in Mexico.
[00:27:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I think that was his conservative kind of estimate of just the Mexican, the regular Mexican police, not including these specialized units and things like that. But I think that was a conservative estimate from him.
[00:27:50] Javier Peña: Very conservative. I've had some experience with Mexico. Yeah. Very conservative.
[00:27:55] Steve Murphy: But in Colombia, it wasn't — you know, I expected the same thing like you had mentioned. But when I got down there and connected with Javier and Gary was pleasantly surprised to find out that the corruption factor wasn't that bad. It did exist, but nowhere near the level. And everybody asks us that everywhere. This is our fifth year traveling around the world on a world tour. And everybody asks that question and we knew who we could trust that we worked with on a daily basis.
[00:28:19] Javier Peña: Yup.
[00:28:20] Steve Murphy: Even one of those guys turned out to be one of the leaders of Los Pepes. We found out after Pablo was dead. So he could have had us whacked at any point, but I guess, you know, his loyalty and his friendship, he didn't.
[00:28:31] Javier Peña: Right.
[00:28:31] Jordan Harbinger: What are Los Pepes again? Because I saw the show so I know, but this is almost like a subplot, right?
[00:28:38] Javier Peña: There are many subplots in the search Pablo Escobar, Los Pepes. And one thing, going back also, these cops that were fighting Escobar hated Escobar. I mean, it was because of all the police that Escobar killed. So there was that revenge, hatred. You know what? They would tell Steve and I, "We're not here to seize the money. We're not here to seize dope. We're here to kill Pablo Escobar. It was a revenge because of all the cops that Pablo killed. Real quick, Los Pepes — and like I said, Jordan, that's a little personal fact. In the background, there's an article that I have in the poster that came out and it was basically — I was being associated, that I was a member of Los Pepe. So that's why — believe me, you start doing a lot of memos to watch and to say, "Hey, that is not true."
[00:29:30] Jordan Harbinger: So they thought you were part of Los Pepes then.
[00:29:32] Javier Peña: Yeah. And I was accused and I've been accused in real life. And this is why — and if you see the show, you'll see some, I guess, some degree of me associated with Los Pepes, right? I mean, a lot of people — Europe, when we do our shows and Steve is there, man, they think I'm a dirty DEA agent. And, you know, I explained to them, you know, and I'll tell you a little story here later on. But anyway, Los Pepes was a right-wing vigilante death squad. They were made up. Their boss was a guy named Don Berna. And Don Berna's two big bosses were guys named Moncada and Galeano. They were Pablo Escobar's traffickers. So Pablo, when he was in jail, thought that these two guys who were running the distribution organization, right? The coke — thought they were stealing from him. So he calls him into his prison.
[00:30:22] One day, he says to them, "No, no security. I just want to see what's going on." This is a friendly meeting and they come in and Pablo — there's a bag of money on the ground. And the guys, the two guys, Moncada especially sees it. He says, "Pablo is not what you're thinking. This money — we're not holding out on you." Pablo thought they were holding out on the money. So it was money they had buried, you know, and they forgot all about it. But Pablo became so incensed that he killed one of the guys himself. Carlos comes in and kills the other guy. So their head of security, Don Berna, so he vows to kill Pablo Escobar, family. Their main goal was to kill his wife, his mother, his two kids. And they would kidnap people, kill them. They put a placard, the Los Pepes. That way Pablo knew it was them who's killing them. They were able to kill about 30 of his friends, family members.
[00:31:13] Jordan Harbinger: Oh wow so he basically had a gang that was just about revenge against him killing everyone. And I remember in the Netflix show, they would kill even journalists that were kind of doing Pablo's bidding, right? There's that woman who was always kind of — I guess she had an affair with him. I don't know if that was real or just for Netflix, but she ended up dead too and with a little like cardboard around her neck that said Los Pepes or something like that on it.
[00:31:36] Javier Peña: Yeah, very true. Los Pepes cardboard that way, Pablo — the news would publicize it. They would kill anybody. You got journalists especially because Pablo was trying to get journalists to go on his side saying he's a good guy. Let him surrender. Give him the conditions again. There's one incident where they killed Pablo's — there's two attorneys. And one of his attorneys had his 10-year-old son with him. They killed him too. I'll be honest at the beginning when Los Pepes first came on the scene, people in Colombia loved them. They're like, "Man, Pablo, they're fighting you with your own medicine type." And then all of a sudden, they went too far, but they had already killed like 30. And that was the reason Pablo was trying to get his family out of Colombia.
[00:32:16] Jordan Harbinger: When did you know you wanted to get Pablo Escobar and real talk, were you thinking, all right, we're going to arrest this guy and bring him to justice"? Or was it more like, "We're going to end up putting a bullet in this guy and we just know it"? Like, if he ends up surrendering great, but we're probably going to end up killing him. Did you think that, or was it — you weren't sure?
[00:32:31] Javier Peña: You know what? For me, I knew that we were going to end up killing him because of everything he had done in all the hatred towards him, and also Pablo remember — I mean, he was not going to let himself surrender, be taken to the United States. The whole war of Pablo Escobar is based on extradition. Colombia wanted to extradite him. And that's when he started the war. Colombia backed down on extradition. So for me, personally, I always thought Pablo would never be taken alive.
[00:33:04] Jordan Harbinger: What about you, Murphy? Same thing, you just knew it was going to end up with him dying.
[00:33:07] Steve Murphy: Yeah. And you think about it, I mean, this guy he's vowed that he's not going to be taken alive and all this stuff, but you hear that on a regular basis, believe it or not in this amount of business.
[00:33:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:33:17] Steve Murphy: But here's a guy that's responsible for what we estimate 10, 15, maybe 20,000 murders. Pablo Escobar is — his last remaining sicario that we're aware of passed away several months ago. He was known by the moniker of Popeye, Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez. He was on a documentary that we were on. He says the number is more like 50,000 murders that Pablo Escobar is responsible for. You know, you read the statistics. He is responsible for as many as a thousand police officers being killed in Colombia. So, you know where their focus is. They're not looking to give him his due process in court. I don't think so. Like Javier said earlier, they made it clear to us. This is all about killing Pablo Escobar.
[00:33:58] Jordan Harbinger: I was going to ask how many cops he killed, a thousand. That is—
[00:34:01] Javier Peña: And that's a low number, I think.
[00:34:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:34:03] Javier Peña: It's a little bit more, but pretty much yeah a thousand. And also remember, you know, the car bombs. He was placing them at where cops were going to right outside our base. And then, you know, he started a bounty on police officers. What's a bounty? He put money and he just told his sicarios, "I want as many police officers killed as possible. I'm looking for numbers. And at the end of the day, I'm going to pay you $100 a hit." Can you believe a hundred dollars for human life? I mean, it was just pathetic and sicarios were killing police officers.
[00:34:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I've read those pretty girls would lure — they'd go to bars. Look for cops. Say, "Hey, why don't we go back to my place?" Torture the cops, kill the cops for a hundred bucks. I mean, life is just so cheap.
[00:34:49] Javier Peña: It is.
[00:34:49] Jordan Harbinger: A hundred bucks. I just can't believe it. I can't believe it. It's nothing. I mean, it's nothing.
[00:34:54] Javier Peña: Yep. And I have a little story. I helped arrest a 15-year-old thug sicario and he told me the same thing. He says, "I work for Pablo Escobar." He says, "I will die and kill for Pablo Escobar. He gave my mother money. She's got a little house, we have food. So I owe my life to Pablo Escobar." And he admitted already that he had killed 10 police officers at a hundred dollars a head. And then he said, "You know what? I will be dead by 22, 23 years old. So I'm going to work. I love my boss and I will die and kill for him."
[00:35:28] Jordan Harbinger: Jeez.
[00:35:28] Javier Peña: So that was the attitude.
[00:35:30] Jordan Harbinger: Now, I know Murphy. I'm not sure about you Peña, but I know Murphy, you grew up extremely conservative, religious. Usually, cops and especially drug agents, don't you have to learn how to think like a criminal, right? It seems like somebody from a really conservative background, it's a little bit of a leap. Right?
[00:35:46] Steve Murphy: Did you read that part in the book where I had my first run-in with the cops when I was about 10 years old?
[00:35:51] Jordan Harbinger: I probably but go ahead and refresh our memory here.
[00:35:54] Steve Murphy: Oh, no, it was just, you know, I was like 10 or 11 camping out with the buddies, living in middle Tennessee, just south of Nashville. Yeah, in the middle of the night, we were going — there was a lot of laundry mat in our neighborhood where you could go buy sodas and peanut butter crackers and things like that out of the machines, but none of us had any money. So we went to break into one of the guy's houses. Now, the guy who was with us — we were trying to get into his mom and dad's house—
[00:36:14] Jordan Harbinger: Got it.
[00:36:14] Steve Murphy: —but somebody called the cops on us and got just scared of so bad, we didn't even run. We just froze. The policeman came up to the two guys and they're just acting like this is the most serious thing that ever happened. And they said, "So boys, you've got a choice here. We can either take you to jail and you've got to prison the rest of your lives, or we're going to take you home to your mom and dad." We all looked at each other said, "Take us to jail." Because we knew what was going to happen when we got home. And, you know, you hear the sayings, preacher's kids, PKs are the worst kids out there. I might've fit that mold for quite some time.
[00:36:46] Jordan Harbinger: That's funny. I mean, did you find it difficult learning how to think like criminals when you literally grew up like an altar boy or preacher's kid?
[00:36:54] Steve Murphy: Not me. I always viewed it as a challenge.
[00:36:57] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:36:57] Steve Murphy: We were both uniformed cops before we became federal agents, I call that the real police because they have to respond to whatever incident comes up at the moment. Plus they're out looking for — to get into trouble, to find trouble and try to prevent it. Whereas these DEA agents, we kind of plot the investigation that we do. Some of it's reactive, but most of it is proactive. I didn't think it was quite as dangerous. I mean, being in Colombia was dangerous. Being in Miami was dangerous. Not like uniform policemen, that's out there every day, answering multiple calls, not knowing what you're going into. But being with DEA, I always viewed that as a challenge. Can I outsmart these guys? And let me tell you, drug dealers are not the brightest bulbs on the tree out there, right?
[00:37:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:37:34] Steve Murphy: Some of them are. I mean, some of them are intelligent or they surround themselves with intelligent people. And that's the smart drug trafficker that does that.
[00:37:42] Jordan Harbinger: You guys mentioned seizing a bunch of cocaine that was riding through Cuba. And I thought that was interesting because I remember when I was younger, Castro's big, one of his big bragging points — and the guy bragged about a lot of stuff that made no sense — but one of the big bragging points was, "Look, we don't have drugs here. We're the only country in South America that doesn't have drugs." And now he's gone, especially, it looks like they had tons of drugs. The people weren't just couldn't afford him, but they were shipping them and smuggling them through Cuba constantly.
[00:38:09] Steve Murphy: Right. They were a major transshipment point between Colombia and the United States. And that was — when I first joined DEA in '87, I was stationed in Miami. I've been a cop for about 12 years by the time I get to Miami. The most powder cocaine I'd ever seen at one time during that, you know before DEA was two ounces. So a baggy about this size. I go down there, my senior partner has been working on this case for quite some time. And the goal of the case is to prove Cuba's involvement as a trans-shipment point of cocaine. So we go, that was my first time to cover with DEA. We took an undercover boat, a 53-foot Potter sportfish. I don't even know what that was. I went to the Turks and Caicos Islands, which I'd never heard of. It took us five days to get there. Long story short, the bad guys flew in 400 kilos. So I go from two ounces to 880 pounds of cocaine. I mean, you're talking about being addicted, I was addicted in a different way, right?
[00:39:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:39:02] Steve Murphy: I was addicted to the job. But so we were going to indict Raul Castro, Fidel's brother in Southern District, Florida, and we were the senior partner because I'm the new guy. I'm kind of the gopher for everything, you know, but before he ever got to the courthouse, they got a call from the White House saying, "Stand down. You're not going to indict him. The whole thing is outlined in our book, Manhunters. But the reason I mentioned that is because we had a ghostwriter, Isabel Vincent, who wrote our book for us. We told her all the stories and everything, but she's an excellent researcher. So she documents in the book where she went back and found the media articles in Cuba, where when all this came out in the press, Fidel Castro blamed that on a couple of army generals. One of them, his name, the leader was a guy named Ochoa, believe it or not. And they put them in front of a death squad, shot him. But there's no doubt in anybody's mind. Those guys were allowing their airstrips to be used, their military base airstrips to be used as a transshipment point for cocaine.
[00:39:56] Jordan Harbinger: Why did the White House call and say stand down? I mean, that's the part that I don't get, right? "Hey, let these guys run drugs." Were the guys that were running it, maybe informing on Cuban activity or they were watching them and they didn't want to lose their source? I mean, what do you suspect was going on?
[00:40:10] Steve Murphy: You know what I was a GS-0 back then. I mean, I'm about as low as you get on a pole. I have no say so in anything it's just politics. I'd have no idea. Nobody ever explained it to us. We just got an order, stand down.
[00:40:23] Jordan Harbinger: It just seems bizarre. I mean, you assume that there's a reason for it, right? Like hopefully a good one and not just, "Eh, we don't feel like dealing with the political fallout of indicting the brother of Fidel Castro," but who knows?
[00:40:35] Steve Murphy: You hope.
[00:40:36] Jordan Harbinger: Hard to say
[00:40:37] Steve Murphy: You hope that's not the reason.
[00:40:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you do hope that's not the reason. We hear a lot of things just being in the media and being people that grew up in the '80s and '90s that, "Hey, you know, the CIA runs drugs," and you hear like, "Okay, whatever." This doesn't really — this could just be a conspiracy theory, but CIA versus DEA, there's always this beef, this conflict, right? There's never any Intel sharing from the CIA that you guys thought — they maybe were even tapping your phones. What do you think of the accusation that the CIA was maybe involved in the drug business to fund rebel insurgencies in South America, Central America? What do you think about that having been kind of in that area? Well, not kind of — having been in that area at that time.
[00:41:18] Steve Murphy: Do you want to take us to JP?
[00:41:19] Javier Peña: Go ahead. Oh, well—
[00:41:23] Steve Murphy: You know, so our dealings with the CIA in Colombia, basically the problem was the chief of station. The chief of the station is the head of the CIA in the local area, okay. He did not want to recognize the crossover between the narcotics groups and Colombia and the insurgent groups. Well, when you've got FARC guerrillas providing security on Pablo Escobar's cocaine labs in the jungle, in law enforcement, we call that a clue. So when we come out, we kind of give the CIA a hard time and I'm sure they do us as well. It's not the entire — we don't mean to indict the entire organization. Personally, I happen to think they do a pretty good job to be quite honest with you. It's just because of what they do, they don't have the opportunity to defend themselves to the public like other people do. So they just take it on the chin and they keep going. After we left, Colombia and got away from that chief of station. We've never had a problem with the CIA since. In fact, we've worked with some in retirement that has just been phenomenal to work with.
[00:42:21] Now to get back to your question about Central South America. Could they have been involved in that? You know what? It certainly seemed like there was an awful lot of smoke back then. And usually, where there's smoke, there's fire. We know that Oliver North, you know, was kind of used as a scapegoat when it came to all that stuff. I happen to know Oliver North. I know him personally, and I think he's a pretty decent person. I would never disrespect him by asking him what his involvement was in that. But if you believe what you read in the media, he certainly seems suspect. And that's why at every show we do, when we explain a story, we encourage the audiences. Go do your own research. Don't accept what we say as fact. Do your own research, and then you make the decision — what's true and what's not true.
[00:43:06] Jordan Harbinger: It makes sense to me that there's not just one person pulling the strings in any big organization like that. It's hard to tell. I do have Oliver North coming on the show — well, hopefully — so I'm going to have to ask him that question that you didn't want to. So wish me luck on that one. We'll see how that goes over. Maybe I'll save it for the end of the interview because you know, it's hard when they're not sitting in front of you, they can just go click, and then you go, "Oh, what happened?" "It looks like we got disconnected." That's actually never happened. He doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would shy away from that. I mean, he's dealt with worse, you know, Congress and all that, but maybe he's sick of talking about it, hard to say.
[00:43:42] Steve Murphy: Make sure you ask him about his non-profit freedom alliance because I've supported that personally by speaking to some of his contributors. And it's phenomenal what he does for a disabled veteran. So that's a good thing about Oliver North.
[00:43:54] Jordan Harbinger: Well, we can definitely focus on that too. And look, it's a complicated issue, right? Because if you're trying to save hostages and you're trying to stop the creep of communism in the '80, and you say, "Look, we sold some drugs and it got out of hand." I mean, I don't want to excuse illegal behavior, but I kind of understand the calculation that would have been made therein somebody's head at that particular time. 20/20 hindsight, it's kind of hard to judge somebody for something that they did when they thought they were doing something for the greater good. So maybe that was the case.
[00:44:21] I do wonder, on a different note here, why do countries like Mexico and Colombia resist extradition to the United States when they catch a big fish drug trafficker? What's going on here? You know, you see like, "Oh wow, we're gonna move El Chapo." "Eh, we're not going do it now." "No, we're going to do it now." "No, we're not going to do it." What the hell is going on here? I mean, if you can't keep the guy in prison, because he's got a freaking tunnel. You know, why can't the president or the highest law of the land just say, "We can't control this guy." I know it's embarrassing, but isn't it more embarrassing to lose the guy five freaking times?
[00:44:51] Javier Peña: Jordan, you know what? You asked the perfect question. Why don't those countries want to give up some of their traffickers? And also, you know, we go back to the corruption, the money, and some of these traffickers in some of these third world countries, they're living kings. Pablo Escobar was a great example, Mexico. We got guys — there was a case not too long ago. Where was it? In Ecuador, the top trafficker had his own mansion. You know, he had the prostitutes, had personal chefs. They can get away with whatever they want with the money. Colombia, Mexico extradition — we're starting to see some — you know, in Mexico they're starting to extradite them, but they're — I mean, it takes a while. The process will take two to three years. You need all sorts of proof. What do you call? The extradition requests. I mean, it's a legal situation.
[00:45:45] Colombia was kind of unique because it was unconstitutional at the time when Pablo Escobar was there. It was written in the constitution. "We cannot extradite." You know, their sovereignty. However, once Pablo Escobar proved and other traffickers in Colombia that they could get away with murder and I'm talking literally bombs, murders, kidnappings, whatever they wanted to do. I think the first attorney general, Lara Bonilla, talked about, "Hey, we can control these traffickers because they have the money of the world. So let's think about extraditing them to the United States." What happens? The guy gets killed — attorney general — two guys on the motorcycle. Can imagine an attorney for just saying that? Then the famous newspaper editor in Colombia, Guillermo Cano, the El Espectador, which was like the biggest paper in Colombia. Right? Not a bad piece saying that, "Fellow Colombians, we need help. We need to extradite him." They put a bomb at the newspaper building. They killed him.
[00:46:48] Luis Carlos Galán, the guy was going to be the president of Colombia. His campaign is, "I will bring back extradition." Colombians love their orders. What happens to him? Pablo Escobar sends sicarios. They shoot him on stage while he is campaigning. Unbelievable! So it was the constitution. Once Pablo Escobar killed the presidential candidate, Luis Carlos Galán — just for, you know, historians, the president was Barco Vargas, who said, "What? You know what? Colombia, I don't care." He signed the piece of paper saying, "Let's get rid of these traffickers," saying we had a field date. We estimated about 30 of Escobar's traffickers to the United States. While I always said, "No one's going to escape from our justice system." They're going to try, right? In the US, some have been successful, of course, but the majority are going to — you know if you look at the supermax where tickets in Colorado, where El Chapo was there. There's no chance that guys are going to escape.
[00:47:47] So, you know, me personally, I wish more of these countries would start saying, "Let's get rid of these traffickers. We can deal with them." Mexico is starting to do it. It takes a little bit longer, but you know, we saw Chapo with other Mexican traffickers. In Colombia still, you know, they're starting to extradite some of their top traffickers to the United States. We've seen FARC members getting extradited, so they're coming along, but there's still other countries that because of their sovereignty laws, they're not going to do it.
[00:48:19] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guests, Steve Murphy and Javier Peña. We'll be right back.
[00:48:25] This episode is sponsored in part by BrandCrowd. This is a really cool idea. So what BrandCrowd is like an awesome logo maker tool, for lack of a better term. It can help you make an amazing logo design online. So you can go to brandcrowd.com/jordan. You can type in any word so you can type in like your last name or something. And within seconds, BrandCrowd will make thousands of logos for you. You can even enter something. That's the word, like your name and car or fitness, and it will select by theme and then send you thousands of logos based on that as well. And then you browse the logos. You can edit the fonts, the colors, the layout, as many as you like, it's all free. Then once you find the perfect logo, you can buy that and download the logo design files that you created using the editor. So I think it's a really, really fun idea. Go try it for free. Brandcrowd.com/jordan, B-R-A-N-D-C-R-O-W-D.com/jordan. Go play with it and get 60 percent off BrandCrowds Premium logo pack. Go check it out. It's a really cool idea.
[00:49:23] This episode is also sponsored by Better Help. Now, a lot of people write into Feedback Friday, but a lot of people hit me on social media as well. And it's just been a tough year for a lot of folks. The transition to this year has been tough on a lot of folks and a lot of folks are just trying to get centered. They're not necessarily hitting any particular hard time. They just kind of want to reground. Therapy is the way to handle this. You don't have to be a giant mess that can't tie your shoes in the morning to get a therapist. I think, the highest-functioning people I know, myself included, are very much a fan of therapy, but finding a therapist can be intimidating. It can be time-consuming. With Better Help, you fill out a questionnaire. They match you in a couple of days. Everything is done by phone, video, text, whatever's comfy for you. You don't have to drive across town. You don't have to park. Obviously, everything is confidential and you can switch your counselor to any time. Trust me on this. Try it out. I think dipping your toes in the therapy water this year is a great way to get your head on straight for 2021.
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[00:50:27] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is sponsored in part by LinkedIn. I think a lot of us are very familiar with LinkedIn. I would hope so by now. The LinkedIn Sales Navigator is the best version of LinkedIn for sales professionals. So get ready to crush those 2021 sales goals. The best salespeople know that closing deals are about understanding your customer's needs and building relationships. If you're listening to this show, that's not news to you at all. It's time to re-imagine in-person selling and cold calling for the digital world. If you haven't been forced to do that already by last year here. LinkedIn Sales Navigator gives you 20 monthly InMail messages, lead recommendations, unlimited searches, actionable insights, news access to free courses on LinkedIn learning. As the world adapts to new working habits, sellers also have to shift tactics to stay ahead. And of course, when I was doing sales for my old company, I used LinkedIn a lot. I use social media, I use LinkedIn a bunch, and now it's time that everybody does the same. And I see that all the time, people who do it right and do it well on there are absolutely killing it.
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[00:51:38] Jordan Harbinger: Hey, I just want to thank everyone for supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers, that's what keeps us going. That's what keeps the lights on around here as you've heard me say many times. By the way, with all the discounts, all those codes, you don't have to rewind or deal with any of that, if you want to support a sponsor, and please do, go to jordanharbinger.com/deals. All the codes are there, all the sponsors are there, new and old. Also, we have worksheets for every episode. If you want to get some of the drills and the takeaways, the exercises talked about during the show, they're all in one easy place. They're always in the worksheets. Those are linked in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. Again, along with the sponsors for these episodes.
[00:52:14] And now for the conclusion of our episode here with Javier Peña and Steve Murphy.
[00:52:19] I know that Escobar when he finally surrendered in Colombia, he got his own prison and we see that in the Narcos series, right? Where he basically builds this luxury prison. And you guys can't eavesdrop on it. You can't fly over it. You can't drive up. You need permission. I mean, he's safer in there than he probably was anywhere else. And he's got everything he wants in there. And it's just like, how is this not embarrassing — more embarrassing than sending the guy to the United States and admitting that you can't control him. I mean, he might as well be the president of the country at that point, or like the attorney general, if he's going to — and then he walks out of the prison and escapes again via tunnel when they finally tried to crack down. I mean, it's just kind of — it's pathetic really is what it is.
[00:53:01] Steve Murphy: It is and the agreement he reached with the Colombian government — you know, we call it the deal of a lifetime. It's the most outrageous plea bargain we've ever heard in our lives. But, you know what? Here's a little tidbit that a lot of people don't realize. Once Pablo surrendered and he was in prison for one year before he killed the Moncada and Galeano brothers, the bombing stopped. You know, that was part of the deal, the bombings will stop. And so he did live up to that one thing, but you know, the fact that what he calls a prison, we call it a country club. If you've seen it in the Narcos series, in real life, it's much, much nicer than what you see on television.
[00:53:35] He got a five-year prison sentence, that's all he had to do. He got to choose the crime he wanted to plead guilty to. And then he was absolved of every other crime he ever committed, including multiple murders, thousands and thousands of murders. He built his own prison. He paid the guards. I wonder where their loyalty lies, right? To the paymaster. He handpicked his fellow prisoners. There were no stipulations for him to give up any of his assets. Forbes magazine estimated his wealth as high as $30 billion. He gets to keep the $30 billion. I mean, it's outrageous, but the goal was to protect Colombian lives.
[00:54:14] And so, we challenged our audiences, put yourself in the shoes of Luis Carlos Galán, who — is that right, Javier?
[00:54:21] Javier Peña: César Gaviria.
[00:54:22] Steve Murphy: César Gaviria who became president. What would you do if you see all your citizens being murdered? You ran on a campaign of trying to stop the violence, would you take that step? I mean, it's a double-edged sword. I don't think I would, but I don't know I wasn't in that man's shoes.
[00:54:37] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Like you don't get justice, but you get the result of now school buses aren't getting shot up by machine guns, and newspapers and shopping malls aren't getting blown up because this guy is pissed off at the government. So he's kind of holding a wolf by the ears and I guess, he's saying, "At least, we know where he is. Yeah, he's still doing everything wrong, but what we need is to not have a civil war," which is what they had really against these narco-traffickers.
[00:55:01] Javier Peña: That is correct. And the civil war — the war was innocent people getting killed every day, you know, car bombs, 10 to 15 on a daily basis. That was his war on Colombia. And it was just all innocent people being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
[00:55:18] Jordan Harbinger: You guys mentioned that some of the drug traffickers had small armies of bodyguards imported from Israel. I did not know that Israeli mercenaries and foreign mercenaries were imported to guard drug traffickers. I mean, I knew there were other South American gangs guarding them, but I didn't know that they were actual military and special forces professionals from other nations working down there. One, that seems like a risky gig, and two, what the hell? I'm shocked by this. You know you would think like — one, you gotta be an idiot to take that gig, I guess, but it must have paid through the nose. Otherwise, it's just not worth it for these guys. I mean, you can't just fly back home and go, "Yeah, I just had a brief five-year stint protecting Pablo Escobar."
[00:55:56] Javier Peña: In this, guys were mercenaries. They were good at what they did. And really the guy who recruited them was Pablo Escobar's first partner, José Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha. They called him El Mexicano. And Gacha has warned the military so he's the one — and I don't know how he recruited them. I know they paid him a lot of money, but there were about 10 guys who came and they set up camp in Colombia in Medellín and they taught those guys how to shoot, how to kill people. They used to have training classes because we had informants later on, who participated in these training classes, you know, physical exercise. But their main goal was to teach the sicarios, the assassins, how to shoot, how to kill, how to place bombs. They weren't actually doing the work. They were training these guys. How much money did they make? I know it was a lot but Gacha was really more responsible. Escobar knew him, of course. He helped pay these guys, but these guys were some of the best in the world. These are really mercenaries. I know, there's a colonel, Yair Klein. It's all over in the press. He got indicted. They never arrested him, but it was about 10 of those guys.
[00:57:08] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, it's despicable. How bad do you need money when you're going to help that guy? That's like working for Osama bin Laden at that point.
[00:57:15] Steve Murphy: It was back during that time, Medellín was the murder capital of the entire world. That's how dangerous it was. And it's primarily because of Pablo and the Medellín cartel,
[00:57:23] Jordan Harbinger: And this is during the Lebanese Civil War. So like you're not competing with Chicago or something. You're competing with actual hot war zones that have active conflict and you're still the murder capital of the world and you're supposed to be just a regular town in South America. That's unbelievable. It's so sad to me.
[00:57:42] A side story here. You talk about getting Manuel Noriega of Panama. I used to live in Panama, so I've heard a little bit about this. People are still actually really pissed off at the United States for the operation because it killed a bunch of people in a very poor area of the city. But this guy was making two billion dollars a month in drug money. He had a pipeline for cocaine to the United States. I think the most interesting part of the story is that the guy flees to the Vatican embassy in the United States, flushes them out with rock music for three days, Van Halen, U2, the Clash. My mom put up with loud Van Halen for years and Noriega lasted three days. This guy is a wimp, you know, come on.
[00:58:21] Javier Peña: You're right. I mean Noriega, I remember the Vatican and — and you know what? There was a lot of dope coming through Panama and Noriega blessed it. You know, they paid him off, of course, the traffickers did. The loads were safe and then they'd be piecemealed into the United States. Then there's another side of the story that Noriega was also helping the US government. We've all heard that in the press, right? I can say — I'm sure there was something there, but it was just the amount of cocaine and with Panama. You know, how close it is coming to the United States. And so, yeah, a lot of people made money through Noriega in Panama.
[00:58:59] Jordan Harbinger: Who comes up with the plans to use the music like that? Like, "Okay, here's what we're going to do. We're going to blast Van Halen because that's going to get them out of there." It's just such a dumb plan and then it works in 72 hours.
[00:59:12] Steve Murphy: Good question. I have no idea.
[00:59:14] Javier Peña: Yeah, me either.
[00:59:14] Steve Murphy: It's part of their psych ops operations there in the military. So I don't know.
[00:59:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That part's bizarre. And the other thing that surprises me. Is the Vatican, right? So the Vatican lets him just flee inside there. Is the Vatican less cooperative to the United States? That's what it sounds like. It seems like that's the last place you'd want to go someplace that has high moral authority, you know, working for the church. It's like going to the Colombian embassy. Go to the Ecuador embassy, go to the Russian embassy. Why are you fleeing to the Vatican? That sort of paints them pretty poorly honestly.
[00:59:48] Steve Murphy: I think it's him looking for a place of refuge and he feels like the church — I'm not Catholic, but I think he feels like the church is going to protect him. You know, you can see what they did. I saw his private jet in Panama after the raid and there's a hole right next to the door where a rocket went right through the body of his plane. So he knows they're trying to kill him. And I guess he felt that — you know, you think about it, if he draws too much heat on the Russians or the communist or whatever other embassies he would go to, they might say, "You know what? You're bringing off a lot of problems down on us that we don't need. So here, you go." But I guess he felt with the Vatican behind him, they wouldn't have that problem. That's the only thing I can think of but I really don't know.
[01:00:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yeah. Also, the other thing is our embassy is usually in fancy neighborhoods. I mean, that's the way that I've seen it in other countries. So I think it's kind of funny that the United States sets up a giant speaker system and keeps up the entire city in the fancy area where all the embassies are — they are usually in one cluster. They keep everybody up for three straight days in order to get Noriega. And I'm half thinking, maybe the Vatican isn't the one that buckled him. Maybe it was just like, "Look, we're not listening to any more Van Halen." Because you got all these wealthy people with influence and they're saying — look, this is an international incident at this point.
[01:00:58] Steve Murphy: Hey, I like Eddie Van Halen. I liked this music.
[01:01:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I mean, it's just not that bad, right?
[01:01:03] Steve Murphy: Right.
[01:01:04] Jordan Harbinger: If they told me they were playing Skrillex or something, you know, those like electronic dance music for three days, it's like, okay, I understand. It's not everybody's thing, but Van Halen, I mean, it's mainstream, especially,
[01:01:14] Steve Murphy: Maybe if it's Alice Cooper or AC/DC who knows.
[01:01:17] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Exactly. Like then it's like, "Okay, all right, fine." So yikes.
[01:01:22] You guys actually helped a bunch of people get to the United States and exchange for their help. And some of them actually — they just vanished inside the United States. I mean, that's, these people are garbage, right? They're just garbage. Do we ever catch up with those folks? I know you mentioned in the book that they kind of vanished as soon as they get to the United States, but how much can you vanish in the United States for decades at a time? I don't know.
[01:01:42] Javier Peña: I mean, some of these are under that witness protection program, which is run by the Marshall. So I just vaguely know a little bit about their program. Other informants I know were given a visa. And one of the main things, I remember in Colombia during this time is everybody wanted a better life, wanted money and — where to? They used to call the US what Disneyland is. Disneyland, right? Coming into the United States, you know, the big Walmart's, the big Target. So there were a lot of people trying to get a new life basically here with money and given information on Pablo Escobar.
[01:02:22] Jordan Harbinger: But I know some escaped without giving you the info, right? They would just fly here. And then they would slip out of the hotel and you never saw them again.
[01:02:29] Javier Peña: Yeah, that is correct. You know, and we were supposed to — we failed on our taking care of them security-wise. So they took off and who knows if they made it back or they stayed here. I mean, that's a good question.
[01:02:42] Jordan Harbinger: Tell me about killing Pablo. I mean, I think I don't want to spoil the whole story here because people can see it on Netflix. They can see it in the book, but after he's dead, the murder rate drops by 80 percent. 80 percent. That's insane. Just one guy—
[01:02:58] Steve Murphy: It is.
[01:02:58] Jordan Harbinger: —was responsible for 80 percent of the murders in the whole country. They didn't get rid of narco, traffickers, or drugs, just Pablo Escobar, 80 percent murder rate drop. That's crazy.
[01:03:07] Steve Murphy: It is. It's outrageous. And to this day, I mean, we get a lot of comments on our social media sites and we'll get emails and we've even had people yell at us during our shows — derogatory things — but people are still out there that think Pablo Escobar is some kind of hero. A lot of these people think that weren't even alive when he was killed. So a lot of young people, and especially in the social media sites, it's amazing. Some of the things you just end up — if I can delete them, I do, because they're just nasty, but they have no idea what they're talking about when they're talking about, you know, "He's a hero. Oh, he did this for his community." He didn't do anything. He killed people. Did he build hospitals and housing and schools and soccer fields and things like that for people for poor people in Medellín he did?
[01:03:52] He ran a program called Medellín Without Slums, but there is a payback when he needed new sicarios because other sicarios are being killed by the Colombian National Police, by the military, by rival gangs. Where do you think he went? He went right back into that barrio because those people thought he was some kind of God. And so he would say, "Hey," but you know, "my friends," he'd hug him. He'd kiss him. He'd say, "I need a hundred people that are willing to come and work for me. That will kill for me. That will die for me."
[01:04:19] And the sad thing was you might have 300 or 400 young people step up. "I'll do it, Pablo. I'll do it, Pablo." So you know, when everybody says he might be this Robinhood persona, which is complete BS, what he was, in reality, was a manipulator. He was a master manipulator because he manipulated these people into giving up themselves and their lives for his benefit. This is all about him. It's all about promoting Pablo. It's not about promoting the organizations. It's about promoting that one person, Pablo Escobar.
[01:04:50] Javier Peña: And Robinhood didn't put a bomb on a commercial airline, killed 110 people. Robinhood didn't kill the next president of Colombia. The DAS building bombing. And you know what, Jordan, I was going to say something when you're talking about the Catholic Church and I'm Catholic. I just need to go to church more often. You know that how else can practicing Catholics are, right? Anyway, but the Catholic Church in Medellín had a great campaign on Pablo Escobar. You talked about the church getting involved. They would say Pablo was a good person, just a little misunderstood. There's a famous priest in Medellín, Father Garcia Herreros. He had a TV show every afternoon where he would talk about Pablo, his goodness. Why? Because, well, the money that Pablo gave to the Catholic Church, so yeah. So you were correct when you're talking about Panama and the Vatican.
[01:05:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yikes, I mean, that just — it's just mafia 2.0, but that's probably another podcast and now I just defended like millions of people. So I'm going to leave it there.
[01:05:53] I wonder — you know, sort of in closing here — do you think it's possible to dismantle drug cartels entirely, or are Mexico, possibly Colombia, just destined to become a narco-state because of the demand, among other reasons, because of the demand we have here in the United States for these substances.
[01:06:11] Javier Peña: Look at Colombia. We dismantled Pablo Escobar. What happened? Cali Cartel took it over, right? We dismantled them, North Valley Cartel. Look at Mexico, Chapo was in the US now. They're still dope coming out of Mexico. Of course, there are other trafficking organizations that are just willing, they're waiting to take over and they learn. They learn from old organizations. They learn from history. They are smaller now. They're more independent. They're not like Pablo Escobar with 200, 300 sicarios riding around with him. So they adapt. They're like us, they learn from history.
[01:06:48] Steve Murphy: That's a really big question that we get everywhere we go, especially during these kinds of interviews. And, you know, people say, "We'll just legalize it." And we're starting to see that more and more here in the United States. Javier and I have discussed this ad nauseam because we understand that we, as a world, cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem. We cannot put enough people in jail to stop it because there are so many evil people out there waiting to take advantage of you and us. They'll do anything to make money and take advantage of others.
[01:07:17] So we're a big proponent of better education for young people at the earliest possible age. Show them what the effects are, the negative effects of narcotics, whether it's physical or emotional, physiological, the ecological, all the different facets that fall in with that, the evils of narcotics. But also, it's not fair to look at our police. You know, one group of people and say, "Go fix this," because the police can't do it alone. You can't tell your legislators. Legislators to solve this problem. You can't expect the pharmacist to get us out of the opioid problem. Although a lot of big pharma had a lot to get us into that problem.
[01:07:52] So DEA has started this program and please understand we do not speak for DEA, but we are aware of this program. It's called they're a 360 strategy and they go into high-risk cities. And what they do is they bring all parts of the community together. So you've got your law enforcement, your judicial system, your doctors and your pharmacist, your faith-based community, your moms and dads, everybody comes together to try to address this issue and bring a solution to it. And they've seen some great successes with it. Javier and I, we love the D.A.R.E. program. I can't tell you how many people we talked to that, "Oh yeah. You know, D.A.R.E., I remember that when I was in grade school."
[01:08:25] Jordan Harbinger: That's true, yeah.
[01:08:26] Steve Murphy: "That was really cool. The cop was so nice. You know, they brought a helicopter in and we got the helicopter and we got to blow the siren on the police car." But one of the political administrations did away with their funding. They are back with funding now, but here's a program that's helping our young people learn about the evils of narcotics we do away with the funding. So this all kind of comes back around to that quote of the war on drugs. There's never been a bigger misnomer into a war that the government has come up with. I mean, God bless our men and women in law enforcement. And when we say this, we are certainly not taking anything away from them. We still need the brave men and women who are willing to put a uniform on to protect you and us, right? But it's a war. When you go to war, you get your allies together, you get your, all your material. You go on with your troops, you're ready to win. Right? Here we're fighting the war on drugs. We're going after a man who is the world's first narco-terrorist, who is the world's most wanted criminal. A man who's responsible for as much as 80 percent of the cocaine in the world.
[01:09:27] I mean, think about that, Jordan, would you like to have 80 percent of the podcast market?
[01:09:31] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, yeah, that would be great. Sounds good. We'll have the interview on my jet.
[01:09:37] Javier Peña: Could I get a ride with it?
[01:09:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, absolutely. Jets for everyone at that point.
[01:09:41] Steve Murphy: Here's a man. This is who we're talking about. He cornered 80 percent of the cocaine market in the world. And what did the United States send? Javier Peña and Steve Murphy. Does that sound like a freaking war?
[01:09:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Make sure you guys bring extra bullets, I guess.
[01:09:56] Javier Peña: Yeah.
[01:09:56] Steve Murphy: Well, that's a whole other joke. We weren't allowed to carry long guns. We could only carry our sidearms.
[01:10:02] We're going up a guy that has shoulder-mounted rockets that has hand grenades, has RPGs, and we got nine millimeters.
[01:10:09] Jordan Harbinger: Right. And they're like, here's another handful of shells just in case. Saw the handle off a pot and put it in the front of your jacket just in case.
[01:10:16] Javier Peña: Yeah.
[01:10:17] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, it's just, it's like pissing into the wind. No, not to, you know, no offense, but it really is like, there's just not — even if there were a hundred of you guys, a thousand of you guys.
[01:10:28] Steve Murphy: Right.
[01:10:28] Jordan Harbinger: It's just not enough. It's not enough. We can't sort of like you said, arrest our way or shoot our way out of this.
[01:10:34] Steve Murphy: We've got to do something better, but I mean, this is my personal opinion. Legalization is not the way to do it. That's not going to work.
[01:10:40] Jordan Harbinger: I don't really see how that would work either. I mean, we're just going to end up with — the problem is people like me as a teenager, teenage Jordan says, "Well, if it's illegal, it can't be that bad or it would be illegal." So you end up with the effect of that and educating people and saying a lot of things that are legal is still bad for you. It's just not enough. It's just not enough.
[01:11:01] Steve Murphy: We agree, yeah.
[01:11:01] Jordan Harbinger: So it seems impossible.
[01:11:02] Steve Murphy: We agree, a hundred percent.
[01:11:03] Jordan Harbinger: Guys, thank you so much. This has been really interesting. Getting a look inside this investigation inside your time in Colombia and inside the DEA is fascinating. Is there anything I haven't asked you where you got to make sure that you leave us with?
[01:11:15] Steve Murphy: If you want to find out more about us, go to our website, www.dea.narcos.com. We're hoping next year to compete with you in the podcasting market. So we've got a surprise coming after the first of the year.
[01:11:27] Jordan Harbinger: Great. Bring it on.
[01:11:28] Javier Peña: And you know, for people out there, visit Colombia, it's a great country. It's a safe country. It's a beautiful country. We encourage — it's a beautiful country to visit. And the real heroes in the search of Pablo Escobar were the Colombian National Police. They're the ones who took down Escobar.
[01:11:45] Steve Murphy: Absolutely.
[01:11:46] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting. That's an interesting point. Have you ever been back to Colombia on vacation or can you go back or is it kind of like, "Eh, the juice ain't worth the squeeze?"
[01:11:54] Javier Peña: Yeah. No, we've been there twice, and yeah, all we told people to go. It's beautiful. It has changed a lot. It has.
[01:12:02] Jordan Harbinger: Do you feel safe there? You particularly like I would go, but you particularly, would you be able to go, or is it like just too much of a residue on this Escobar case for you to feel safe?
[01:12:12] Steve Murphy: We went to Bogotá during some of the filmings of Narcos Series Seasons One and Two. It felt pretty good there. I mean, it's a huge city, eight million people. We did a corporate speaking event in Cartagena. I felt comfortable there walking around the streets because there were a lot of tourists, a lot of gringos out there. So I didn't stick out like a sore thumb.
[01:12:28] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:12:28] Steve Murphy: Now, we went to Medellín and filmed a show a couple of years ago and that one was a little bit nerve-wracking. I think, JP, you were there one or two nights.
[01:12:36] Javier Peña: Yeah.
[01:12:36] Steve Murphy: And I was there two or three nights. I actually went and watched the Super Bowl at Hard Rock Cafe, Medellín, believe it or not with a bunch of other Americans, but nobody knows who we are.
[01:12:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:12:46] Steve Murphy: You can ask anybody in the world. "Do you know who Pablo Escobar is?" Everybody knows who Pablo is. Ask them, "Who Javier Peña and Steve Murphy are?" Most people don't know. And they really don't know what we look like.
[01:12:56] Jordan Harbinger: The guys from Netflix, they're not looking for you two, right? They're looking right—
[01:12:59] Javier Peña: Right.
[01:13:00] Steve Murphy: They look for a boy, Pedro.
[01:13:02] Javier Peña: Yeah, they didn't think we're real. They think we're made-ups.
[01:13:06] Jordan Harbinger: That's right. Guys, thank you so much. It's really fascinating to talk with you and thank you for your service. I know that that was no easy task and you were under fire for a while and I hope you guys are able to go back out on your speaking tour after the world opens back up. Because I think at the very least you're entitled to a few speaking fees here for your hard long hours.
[01:13:25] Javier Peña: I hope people hear you, Jordan. Thank you.
[01:13:27] Steve Murphy: Absolutely. It's been a pleasure being on your show. Thanks for having us.
[01:13:29] Javier Peña: Yeah, me too. Thank you, Jordan.
[01:13:33] Jordan Harbinger: You're going to hear a trailer for our interview with Frank Abagnale the inspiration for the movie, Catch Me If You Can. Frank used psychology and social engineering to pull off his stint as one of the most successful imposters the world has ever known. If you've seen the movie, you know, Frank posed as an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer. He even passed the bar exam. It's more than I can say for a few of my law school classmates. Check out episode one of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:13:58] Frank Abagnale: When I put that pilot uniform on, no one questioned that I looked too young to be a pilot. I did walk up to a TWA counter. I was in a uniform. I was getting ready to purchase a ticket. And she said to me, "Are you buying or riding." I said, "I beg your pardon?" "You want to be in the jump seat?" I said, "The jump seat?" "Yeah, I'll give you a pass. Just go on the jump seat." Well, I learned everything as I went. No idea you could do this. So then I started riding around on planes in the jump seat.
[01:14:29] I walked into a bank in Chicago. So I went into the bank and I opened the account and I handed the girl a hundred dollars. And she said, "Well, here's some temporary checks. We'll be mailing you, your printed checks." Now because I was young and inquisitive, I just happened to say to her, "I noticed that I don't have any deposit slips." "Oh no, if you need to make a deposit in the meantime, just go over there to that table in the lobby and help yourself to a blank deposit slip. Then write your account number in and then use these until you get your printed ones." Well, I wonder what would happen if I coded my account number on the bottom of all these blanks, and then I went back to the bank, put them on the shelf. So that's exactly what I did. And everybody who came in, put their money in my account.
[01:15:08] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, wow. Frank Abagnale could write a check on a piece of toilet paper drawn on the Confederate States Treasury, sign it U.R. Hooked, and cash it at any bank in town using a Hong Kong driver's license for identification.
[01:15:22] Frank Abagnale: I could and I believed I could, and I probably would. They only saw that uniform. They paid no attention to the check.
[01:15:30] Jordan Harbinger: If you want to hear more from the mind of one of the most successful imposters, the world has ever known, check out episode one of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:15:39] Big thank you to Steve Murphy and Javier Peña. The book's title is Manhunters. Of course, the series is Narcos. Go check that out in the book is really good as well. Links to everything will be in the website in the show notes. Please do use our website links if you buy the books. It does help support the show. Worksheets for the episode are in the show notes. Transcripts in the show notes. There's a video of this interview going up on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram or hit me on LinkedIn. I love hearing from you there.
[01:16:08] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using systems and tiny habits over at our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig that well before you get thirsty. Most of the guests on the show, they subscribe to the course and the newsletter. Come join us, you'll be in smart company.
[01:16:27] This show is creative in association with PodcastOne. My amazing team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's a Narcos fiend or interested in the history of the drug cartels or law enforcement, share this with them. I think they'll get a lot of value out of it. Hopefully, you find something great in every episode. So please do share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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