This article appears in Volume 4 – Issue 6 of SKUNK Magazine.
MICKEY MUNDAY is a good ol’ boy from the southeastern coast of Florida. The same part of the world that produced the sun-drenched blues of Duane Allman, produced the seminal transportation specialist in the history of American drug running.
Southern Florida in the 1950’s and 60’s was very much like Alabama was at the time. Munday’s boyhood was a fairly typical one for a rural kid who was good with machines. He worked on tractors, cars, racecars, then finally turned his natural engineering ability towards the drug trade. Ironically, it was the money that followed the vast amount of cocaine into the area that changed it forever, from a laid-back southern vibe, to the bustling, multi-cultural stew that is now Southern Florida.
When Ponce de León rolled up into the Biscayne Bay in 1513, he became the first white man to see what would later become Miami. He would also start a long tradition of foreign immigration, land grabbing and above all, piracy that would last into the 21st Century. In the 1970’s, a young New Yorker named Jon Roberts got tired of the random violence to be found on the streets of his city. Like a lot of people from New York, he decided to come south and like most Yankees that have ever headed in that direction, he brought chaos and corruption with him.
The first product Roberts worked with was marijuana. With Cuban partners, he was bringing in tons of pot. Along with each load, they would bring in a little coke that he would sell to high profile clients like Mercury Morris and players from the Pittsburgh Steelers. The worm turned, though, in 1979 when Roberts started dating Toni Mooney. Jon enjoyed the trappings of success: flashy cars, boats, houses… and now he had a trophy woman he could haul around town.
To look at her today, you wouldn’t know that Toni Mooney had ever been a Ford model. Years of narcotics abuse has fattened the once angular face and turned her skin to sandpaper. Her flinty blue eyes remain cold, hard and hungry.
It was Mooney who introduced Roberts to Mickey Munday. This meeting would be the dawn of a new era that would see brutal violence rise, along with the economic fortunes of the entire region. Miami was about to experience an unprecedented financial boom and all of it would be funded by coke.
Munday was already working for elements within the Medellin Cartel who were running small amounts of coke out of Columbia. Munday then had the kind of visionary idea that usually comes to extremely intelligent men like R.J. Reynolds and Preston Tucker: bring in industrial quantities of coke. He knew that the Columbians could produce the inventory and now he had Roberts on the other side, whom he was sure could help with distribution. Mickey didn’t want to be a drug lord, though. Mickey Munday was just audacious enough to want to see if they simply could do it.
A true outlaw isn’t in it for the reward; they’re in it to learn exactly how far they can push something, until the straight world comes crashing down on them with the full force of law and order. Mickey says that he never liked Jon Roberts from the jump and that the Medellin Cartel was, “Just a bunch of thugs who got lucky.” His disgust with his associates, however, was irrelevant. Mickey had a plan.
Part of the scheme involved the Columbians packaging the drugs and then have small aircraft fly them out from jungle airfields. These planes would then drop the packages in the ocean between Cuba and the Florida coast. The packages were outfitted with electronic transponders that Mickey and his people could locate. They would hide these packages on high-powered cigarette boats, then smuggle them into Baker’s Haulover Inlet and onto Miami. The inlet is a manmade channel that connects the northern end of Biscayne Bay with the Atlantic Ocean.
The codeword for the mouth of Haulover was The Front Door. Mickey had an apartment rented in a high rise built right near the mouth of the inlet where he set up a girl. All she had to do was use a set of high-powered binoculars and a shortwave radio to warn Mickey of any Customs or Coast Guard patrols that might be in the area when he pulled into Haulover. Once Mickey got the boat into the harbor, he would take it straight to a dock where it would be unloaded into a used car. The trunk would be packed with the drugs. Mickey had a deal with a tow truck company where they’d send a wrecker out to pick up the car. The car would then be taken to a garage, where the drugs could be removed and repackaged for distribution, quietly.
This system, along with straight flights to an undercover airport Mickey built in the Glades, became the main way that coke was shipped into the US. Even his secret airport bore the marks of a resourceful and creative mind. It not only had a well-hidden airstrip more than sufficient to land anything that didn’t have a jet engine, it also sported traditional-looking barns that had fake hay lofts so that when all of the doors were opened, a full airplane fuselage, including tail assembly, could be rolled out.
In 1986, the hammer finally came down. Even though Mickey wasn’t involved with the ultra-violence of the Drug War, he was still a critical piece of the puzzle. All of his business and buildings were raided by multiple law enforcement agencies of both the local and federal variety. Mickey fled at first, but later turned himself in and served seven years in a federal prison.
Munday is a free man these days, still fit (he never used the drugs he transported) and ready for action. His achievement was large—if ethically questionable. Mickey is also getting ready to cross a milestone that will cement him into the pantheon of Great American Outlaws: they’re making a movie about his life, starring Leonardo De Caprio. Not bad for a redneck from the back roads of Southern Florida.