A wildly overwritten account of high times in the drug trade, filled with scenes that practically demand a life on the big screen.
Sabbag (Too Tough To Die, 1992, etc.) opens with the 1976 crash-landing of a marijuana-laden DC-3 on the coast of Colombia. How our hero (antihero?), Allan Long, came to be aboard a cargo plane overloaded with prime Colombian gold is revealed in astonishing detail in the chapters that follow. Sabbag, whose penchant for extended similes and extraneous biographical data on relatively minor characters unfortunately bogs down the pace, recounts the escapades of pot-smoking Long from his first teenage bust in 1966 to his departure from big-time smuggling in 1980. Documentary filmmaking was Long’s entry into the world of marijuana-smuggling, but he quickly moved from recording the action to participating in it. At first he smuggled marijuana from Mexico to California, combining his drug business with a second career as a promoter of rock-’n’-roll concerts. The lure of higher-quality pot and higher profits led Long to move on to Colombia, a complicated venture that eventually got him involved in a network of producers in Colombia, smugglers in Miami, and dealers in Michigan and elsewhere. Thousands of pounds of marijuana and millions of dollars later, Long, who is depicted throughout as nonviolent, quick-witted, and daring, saw the dangers to his life growing as fast as the stakes, and he eventually chickened out of the operation. An epilogue tidies up all the loose ends, revealing what became of Long—time in a federal penitentiary in the 1990s—and his former colleagues in the marijuana trade.
The world Sabbag takes the reader into is an extraordinary one, and the author’s eye for detail of setting, clothing, speech, and mannerism adds a you-are-there feeling to the narrative.