Y'all wanna hear a story about the time I accidentally transported a brick of heroin from Los Angeles to Seattle? I bet. Alright, let's do this... (a thread)
I was living in Newport Beach, California, kinda just -- trying to figure life out. My buddy Tyler calls me up out of the clear blue, and he's like, "Hey dude, you wanna do the most epic road trip ever?"
I'm like, "Sure."
At the time, Tyler was a boat mechanic in South Florida, so I fly down to Miami, and I end up staying with one of his coworkers for a few days, until I can buy a Honda Shadow 750 for like $2,700. (He already had one, so I got a matching bike so we could share spare parts.)
From Miami, we set off across the United States, staying at the kind of motels along the way you see on movies like No Country For Old Men. If you're going to ride across the United States on a motorcycle, do it on two lane roads. It's worth it.
We end up swinging down through Mexico, and this isn't really important to the story, but we pulled over to rest in the middle of the desert, and these wild horses walked up to us, and were actually like... oddly friendly. They let us pet them. It was super cool. ANYWAY...
After like 10 days, we made it back into Southern California. He had an uncle in Temecula, and my ex was in Newport Beach, so we both rested for a few days. Riding a bike across the country takes a toll on your body. So we decided to switch it up.
We decided to sell our bikes, and buy a 1979 Dodge Ram van. I want to say we paid like $600 each for it -- $1200 all in. It needed a little work, but the important part was it was all easy stuff. We named the van Cassandra, and wrote our names on the door.
The plan was easy: We'll drive up the Pacific Coast highway, and camp all along the way. We took the middle seats out of the van, so we could sleep in it at night in case it was raining. Then we went to REI to get hammocks for hammock camping.
On our way up, we stopped in Santa Barbara, and picked up my sister. At the time, she was in school at UCSB, and she was planning on flying home to the Bay Area to see our dad, so I was like, "Just come camping on the beach with us." So she did.
Driving north, we made it to some pretty cool spots, like Bixby Canyon Bridge. All along the way, we're letting anyone who meets us write their name on the van and take a picture. It was... fucking awesome.
Around Big Sir, our van had its first problem. The rear drum brakes were making awful noises, and locked up. I ended up buying a set of Craftsman tools, and then I did a brake job in the parking lot of a Wal Mart.
While I was there, I was like, "I'm gonna do a few other things." When I got the van, I changed the oil, and... that's it. (I know I should have done more of a tune up, but honestly, the van was running fine. The interior was even pretty nice.)
On these old Dodge vans, the engine access is inside the car, in between the driver and the passenger. I hadn't even lifted it up when I bought it. (I'm an idiot. I know.) So, I decided to change the spark plugs, the fuel filter, and the air filter. I'm SO glad I did.
I opened up the engine cover, and sitting right on top of the engine was like, grass, straw and little bits of carpet. A mouse had made a home, right there on top of the engine block. I'm lucky it hadn't started a fire. So I cleared everything out, and changed the plugs/filter.
I remember yelling at Tyler, because he was the one who poured the oil in, and I was like, "How the fuck did you not notice there was a fucking rat's nest on top of the fucking engine block when you were pouring in the oil?!" And he was like, "It's an old car." LOL. WTF.
So anyway, we drive up into Oakland, and meet up with my friends there. We stayed at their house overnight, smoked weed, ate a meal, and chilled out. Then, we set off for Mt. Shasta, and Lake Shasta. (It's a really beautiful lake.)
Finally, we get up into Oregon, into the Cascades, and then head into Washington. The whole time, we're hiking, camping, spending time in nature... it's really just one of the coolest experiences of my life. (Not sure what summit this was.)
So, here's the thing about old cars with carburetors - you need to adjust them for altitude. An ideal fuel ratio at sea level is called stoichiometric -- which means 14.7 parts air, to 1 part fuel. As you gain altitude, you need to lean out your carb jets.
Mount Jefferson is something like 10,000 feet, so as we're driving up, probably around 6,000-7,000 feet, the van starts running way too rich. It was obvious. So... I was like, "Tyler, pull over. I'm gonna lean out these jets."
On a single barrel carb, you're only dealing with a few screws and springs, and basically... you just kinda guess at it. (LOL.) So, I'm just listening to the engine, and then I would reach over and tap the gas pedal to see how it sounded.
So, Tyler steps out of the van, and I'm hunched over the engine, just twisting on the screws, and I hit the gas, and Tyler is like. "HOLY SHIT!" At first, I'm like, "Oh my God, something is on fire." So I pop up, and look around and I'm like, "What?"
Tyler is like, "What the fuck is that?" I look down at the carb and I'm like... "I dunno? Which part are you looking at? Does something look broken?" He's like, "NO DUDE! LOOK ON THE COVER!"
I look to my left, on the underside of the engine cover, and there's what appears to be a brick of aluminium foil, and it's taped up with aluminium tape the clamshell cover. Immediately, I'm like, "Oh shit what the fuck?"
So, I stop what I'm doing, turn the engine off, and start slowly prying this aluminium brick off the underside of the clamshell. Tyler is freaking out. (He doesn't do drugs.) He's like, "Oh my God! It's like on cops when they find drugs hidden in the car!"
I get the brick untaped, and then undo like seven layers of foil. They used a LOT of foil on this thing. What I found was a white, perfectly shrink wrapped brick. I thought it was coke, so I cut open a bit of the corner, put some on my finger, and rubbed it on my gums.
If you've ever done coke, you know it's kinda hot, and then it makes your gums numb. This definitely wasn't coke, and I'm not the type of dude who does heroin. (Just, don't do heroin. Seriously. It's no good.)
So, Tyler and I are standing next to each other, when I hear tires on gravel behind us. Let me paint you a picture: We're standing there with the hood up, clamshell open, side by side, with a brick of pure heroin.
Who do you think rolled up?
I'm holding a brick of heroin in my hands, and there's a park ranger 30 feet behind me. So I reach down, and pretend to go into my tool kit. Thankfully my hands are greasy as hell, and I can pick up some tools. So I slide the brick under the seat.
I pop around with and pretend I'm putting a socket set on a breaker bar, and I'm like, "Oh hey there. How can I help you?" The guy is like, "You guys having trouble?" I'm like, "I'm just trying to jet the carbs." He's like, "Oh, I remember doing that when I was your age."
Then he's like, "You ever done it before?"' I'm like, "I'm kinda just learning as I go here. We're from California." The dude laughs and he's like, "Here, I'll show you."
So the ranger walks over, and he's like, "I remember these old Ram vans. So much room."
We open up the clamshell, and the guy's knee is like two inches from this brick. Man, I'm trying so hard to act normal, but Tyler? He's not playing it cool at all. He's like, "You know, I'm sure Shane can figure it out. We don't need you wasting your time on us."
The ranger is like, "Oh it's no big deal. Most of the time I'm just telling people to put their trash higher up, so the bears can't get to it." So he's just chatting with us, and I'm telling him how we bought the van and drove all the way up the coast, etc.
Finally, we get the jets set, and the ranger is like, "Alright, you boys stay safe." Like, he had no clue he was probably two inches away from the biggest drug bust in the history of Oregon state parks.
Once he drives off, Tyler is freaking out, "Oh my God!? What are we gonna fucking do, man?" I'm just like, "Uh, we're gonna make a shit ton of money selling a brick of heroin." So, I wrapped it up, and just stuck it in the bottom of the cooler in freezer bags, under the ice.
Then, we drive up into Seattle, and I call one of my buddies who I know sells a shit ton of weight. I'm like, "Yo ******, we need to talk." I won't go into all the details, but I managed to sell it all to one person. It was lower risk. Plus, I'm not a drug dealer.
For the record, my buddy Tyler wouldn't take any of the money. Eventually, I convinced him to let me give him $600 for the van, so I could say I bought the van myself. (The van was in his name.) But this story isn't over yet...
I end up selling the van to some hippies from Ashland, and then move to Atlanta. About a year goes by, and I'm not even thinking about this van anymore. Then I get a phone call from a number I don't know. I let it go to voicemail.
The same number calls me again, 30 seconds later. So I answer it. "Hello?" The voice on the other line: "Hey, can I speak to Shane?" I'm like, "Speaking?"
Dude is like, hey, my dad gave me your number. He said he sold a van to you about a year ago?
Immediately, I'm like, "Yeah, he sold me a van." The guy is like, "Wow, that's great news. I'm so glad I found you. So, I don't like to talk about this, but I was in jail. I had a substance abuse problem, and I ended up going to jail because I made some mistakes."
I'm thinking, "What's the angle here?" So I'm like, "Oh, well -- that sucks. Anyway, how can I help you?" So the dude goes into this crazy ass long story. He tells me about how he has so many memories with the van. Yeah, it was in his dad's name, but it was his first car.
"I know it's just a beat up old van, but I'd really like to buy it back from you. Dad says you paid something like $1200 for it. I think I'd be willing to go as high as say, $1800 to get it back. The memories are just worth that to me."
The light goes on in my head. Jail. Substance abuse. He wants the van back. He is willing to pay $600 back over what I paid for it. (Street value, bagged up, if you slow-sell it, there was something like $40,000 worth of heroin in that brick.) This dude wanted his brick back.
I don't own this van anymore, but I definitely know who I sold it to, and I know I can buy it back, so... I start spinning a story. I'm like, "Man, $1800 just won't do it. I've put a lot of money into this van, and it's really running like a top now. It's my daily driver."
He's like, "Oh yeah?" I'm like, "Yeah dude. She's in great condition. I redid the carb, the brakes, all the fuel lines, put some tires on it, redid the carpet on the interior, a lot. I've probably put at least $5,000 into this thing." He's like, "Wow, you really did a lot."
So he's like, "Where are you located?" I'm like, "Oh, I'm up in Ashland, Oregon." (Reminder: I was in Atlanta.) He's like, Oh, that's not too bad. If it runs as well as you say, I may just drive up there with a friend and then drive it back down here."
So finally he's like, "I respect that you put a lot of work into it. Like I said, the van has a lot of sentimental value to me, and I'm glad to hear you took care of it. I think I could offer you $6200. That's what you paid for it, plus the $5000 you say you invested."
So I said, "Alright, you have a deal." As soon as we hung up, I called the people in Oregon I sold the van to (I kinda sorta knew them through friends), and I was like, "Hey, do you still have that van?" They're like, "Yeah, but it's not running." I'm like, "Oh?"
I was like, "You care if I buy it back from you?" The guy was like, "Dude, I'll sell it for $100 if you just get it out of my driveway." So I was like, "Sold." I booked a ticket to Portland the next day, and then rented a car, and drove to Ashland.
Along the way, I called the old owner of the van's son, and I'm like, "Hey will you be free to drive up this weekend?" He's like, "Oh yeah. Totally. I can come up." It will only take me two days to drive up there." It was Tuesday. We agreed to meet on Sunday.
I fly into Portland, rent a car, and then get to Ashland on Wednesday. I go to an auto parts store, and buy a battery jumper kit, and some hand tools. I need to get the van running. I go to see the van, and it's sitting there, pretty dusty, but otherwise okay.
TL;DR -- the only thing wrong with the van was a bad battery. This couple just didn't want to spend any money on the van, because they had recently purchased a Subaru Outback. (Go figure. It's Ashland.) So, I changed the battery in an auto parts store parking lot.
Then, I took the van to one of those self cleaning car wash places, and gave it a good wash and vacuum. Honestly, it cleaned up really nice. At this point, I decided to check in with the guy, and kinda fuck with him a little bit in the process.
The guy answers really fast, and he's like, "Shane! Hey buddy, what's up?" I'm like, hey, I do want to mention one thing about the van, and I hope this doesn't change your plans about buying it." He goes silent. "What's up?"
I was like, "I don't want you to be mad but, uhm, after I bought the van, my friends and I... we uh... we wrote on the outside of it with permanent marker. I can't get it off. I tried." And I hear him sigh like HELLA loud. "Oh, that's fine. I can repaint it."
I'm like, "I want to be fair on price, because I didn't tell you. So... how about I knock $200 off? I just want to pay whatever is fair to get the marker off." He says, "Thanks for telling me. I'll accept the $200 discount. See you Sunday?" I'm like, "Yup!"
So, next things next: I need to make a fake brick of heroin. So I head to a Goodwill, and buy a medium sized paperback book. It was "The Pelican Brief". I thought that was a funny detail for some reason. (Good book. Also a good movie.)
Then I got in my rental, and took off to Medford, because I couldn't find aluminium tape anywhere near Ashland. I got there, got my tape, and then bought some heavy duty foil in a grocery store. From there, I drove back to Ashland.
Making the fake brick was actually pretty easy. I just wrapped it up the same way I remember the brick being wrapped, and then taped it down with aluminium tape the same way I remember it being taped -- kinda like a tic-tac-toe board. They had taped the SHIT out of it.
Then... I just kinda waited. On Friday, I got a phone call from the dude letting me know he was on the road, and I said, "Hey, my mechanic says we can use his bay in case you want to inspect it." And the dude was like, "Oh that won't be necessary." I'm like, "Oh I insist."
On Saturday, I called a local mechanic and I was like, "Hey, I'm selling my van to some people from out of state, and I was hoping I could give you $50 in case they want to use one of your bays to look under the car for a moment?"
(Car buying tip: Any mechanic worth his salt will take you up on this offer. It's good for both the buyer and the seller to have a mechanic take a look. They know they'll be getting any work on any fix they identify.)
We meet at this local shop on a Sunday afternoon. The guy shows up in a late model, silver Nissan Altima. He's heavily tattooed, and so is his friend. These guys look like real, OG, Mexican bangers. Like, dude is wearing blue Nike Cortez's and Dickies. It's THAT look.
Immediately, I realize these aren't the soft dudes I think they are. They're real gangsters, they move real weight, and I'm doing something incredibly stupid. I'm about to rip off two guys who look like they bury people neck deep and let coyotes eat your face off.
But I'm there, and they're in front of me, so I gotta go through with it. So I give them a tour. We walk around the van. It's clean. It has tire shine on it. I've washed it, and even waxed it. It looks as good as a 1979 Dodge can look.
The guy is like, "So you've done some engine work?" I'm like, "Yeah, carb, plug wires, plugs, distributor, etc." He's like, "Can I take a look?" So I help him lift the clamshell, and there's no rats nest, it's looking clean-ish... and it's sorta silent. So I talk...
"When I got in here, there was a HUGE rat's nest. I cleaned that out, then I got to work on the carb, the plugs, wires, belts, hoses. It's all new in there." Then, the dude reaches over, and straight up taps the aluminium brick. I start sweating. He looks at me. I look at him.
The first thing that came out of my mouth was. "I didn't bother redoing any of the heat shielding on the clamshell. Honestly, I prefer having some heat coming off the block in the winter, but I can see why you did it. Southern California is hot."
I was trying so hard to play it dumb as hell, and I sold it. He says back to me, "Yeah, this tape costs about $20 a roll, but it's worth it to beat the heat." I laugh, "Yeah, the AC just barely works. I think you've got a leak in the system somewhere."
Then he throws a curveball at me. "Can I take it for a drive?" I'm like, "Oh totally." He's like, "Do you mind if my friend drives behind me, in case it breaks down?" I say, "Oh you go right ahead." At this point, I'm thinking he's going to drive off, never to be seen again.
He's gone for about 20 minutes, and then he comes back. He's got a big smile on his face, and he's like, "Wow, it still drives great. Let's negotiate." So I'm like, "Well, you did say $6,000?" He comes back at me and he's like, "Well, I gotta ship this van back."
I'm like, "Okay, well... what's a fair price?" He says, "You have the title here in your hand?" I say. "Well, actually, I had to do a lost title BUT I can mail it to you in like a week." (The reality was I did, but hadn't done the transfer from the couple yet.)
He's like, "Alright, you know, you seem like a good guy. You can mail it in a week?" I'm like, "Yup." He says, "$5,000. Because it'll cost me $1,000 to ship. You're a wild man for driving this old beast as far as you did." So we shake hands. It's a deal.
I have a notepad with me, and I say, "Alright, let me write you up a bill of sale." So I write his name, and my name. His address, and my "address" (a local Ashland address where I definitely have never lived), and the "cost" of the vehicle. This is a funny wrinkle...
I said to the guy, "Hey, I'm going to write on the bill of sale that you only paid $1,000 for the van, so you can avoid paying more taxes in California when you go register it." (You pay taxes on the sale.) He's like, "Oh, thanks. I didn't think of that."
Using the hood to press on, I sign my name, he signs his, and then he's like, "Alright, here's the $5,000. Cash." So he hands reaches into his pocket, and when he does, he moves his shirt in such a way that he obviously exposes a gun in his waistband. He pauses.
As he's handing me the cash, he smiles and says, "Thanks for taking care of my van, Shane. I'm relieved to see you left my heat shielding how it was. There's a lot of value in heat shielding. Some might say it's worth quite a bit." He gets this look in his eyes. It's dark.
He continues. "You seem like a smart guy. Smart guys don't talk about things they find. They might even buy new aluminium tape, but be careless enough to leave the roll in the back seat." My throat turned into a knot. Like, my whole mouth went dry as fuck.
He stares into my fucking soul. Like, INTO me, fam. Then he gets this big ass smile on his face grabs me by my shoulder, and he smiles, "If you were even smarter, you would have asked for $10,000." The he starts laughing, and the guy he's with starts laughing.
"You know, you're a hustler Shane. What do you do?" I breathe a sigh of relief. "I'm a web developer." He says, "You could have been a stone cold hustler in another life. I've never been hustled before, but you had the cajones to get your money. I like that."
They hadn't checked to see what was inside the foil. They only knew that I taped it back. So I went with it. "Well, you know. I found it when I was working on the van. I just didn't know how I'd ever sell it, so it's been in my freezer for a year now." He busts up laughing.
"Homey, you kept it in the freezer? That's wild man." So then we just sorta chop it up outside this mechanic's shop for about 20 minutes. He and I had the same taste in rap music. I wanted to just keep him happy. I was trying to think of my exit plan.
Finally, he's like, "Alright, you know I don't want this van, but ship it to me anyway. Here's $5,000. Keep the change." To be clear -- he had given me $5,000 already for the van, and then gave me ANOTHER $5,000. I played it cool. "Close enough to $10K." I dapped him up.
As soon as they left the parking lot, I sprinted into the mechanic's office where he was sitting, and he was like, "Son, that was the most obvious drug deal I have ever seen. I already called the police." I felt my heart go from 0 to one million.
Then the mechanic winks at me, and he's like, "I'm just fucking with you. Man, this is Oregon. Everyone smokes weed. Calm down. I didn't call the cops." He sees my face, and he's like, "You should have seen the look on your face." (I wasn't amused.)
The problem was, the clock was ticking. I didn't know when those dudes were going to open the foil and realize I'd just hustled them, so I was like, "Hey, if I give you $200, will you let me keep that van parked here for two days until I can get it shipped?"
He's like, "If it's here longer than two days, I'm gonna charge you. If it stays here, it's mine." So I was like, "That's fine. I'll be back" (I knew at that moment the van was going to belong to him. I was never coming back. Most states have laws for mechanics like that.)
I walked out of the mechanics office, and then walked literally seven miles back to my rental, parked at my little motel. Ashland is a small town, and I had picked the cheapest motel. I wanna say it was like a Super 8 or something?
The road this motel is on is like, pretty long and straight. Like, you could see a full quarter mile down the road, no problem. As I'm about 400 yards away from the entrance, I see a silver Nissan Altima pull in, and go to the front office.
As I walk closer, I see two guys get out, and I realize it's the same guys. They haven't seen me, but we're staying at the same fucking motel. So, I start speed walking. When I checked in, it took a while, so I knew I needed to hustle so I wasn't seen.
I took off the flannel I was wearing, so I'd be in a white tank top. I folder the flannel up super small, and walked as fast as someone can walk without looking like a moron. My room was on the back side of the motel, upstairs.
Basically, as soon as I cleared the vision line of the back wall, I went into a full sprint, and ran as fast as I could up the stairs, and into my room. No sooner than the moment I slammed my door, I went over the the drapes, and peeked out. The silver Altima was driving around.
I shit you not, these guys parked two spaces away from my rental car, and their room was DIRECTLY below mine. It's a damn cheap hotel, so I could kinda/sorta hear them talking. Not word for word, but definitely the vocal tones, plus their TV.
When I saw I was quiet as a mouse, I mean, I just sat in bed, didn't turn the TV on, didn't move, and when I had to pee, I held it. I was terrified. Then... I heard it.
I heard the guy yell. "MOTHERFUCKER! I'M GOING TO FUCKING KILL HIM!" Then I hear them screaming, but it's not clear what they're saying. They yell for like 15 minutes. Then they get quiet. My phone rings. It's a blocked number.
I sent it to voicemail. It rings again. Blocked number. I send it to voicemail. Then, I hear them yelling a bit more, and then I hear the door downstairs slam. I peek out of the little gap in the drapes, and watch them take off.
As soon as I saw the car clear the corner, I left.
I grabbed my backpack, flew down the stairs, and got into my rental. I was getting the fuck out of Ashland before I got killed. I had been on the road for about an hour when the guy calls me again, this time, from his real number. Not a blocked number.
I answered, "Hey M******. What's up?" He's yelling, "WE'VE GOT A FUCKING PROBLEM! YOU NEED TO BRING ME MY MONEY, RIGHT NOW!"
I was did what I do, and talked shit -- "I take it you're not a big fan of John Grisham novels. You should really give him a chance before you get angry."
The dude flew off the handle. Like, he's just shouting, "MOTHERFUCKER I WILL KILL YOU!" over and over, so finally I'm like, "M****. Calm down. Just listen. I think we can make a deal here." So he gets a little less on edge. "What's your deal?"
I said, "Look, I know you're staying at the (Whatever) Hotel. We'll meet up there. You show me you've got your gun on the hood of your car, so I know I'm safe." He's like, "Okay. And?" I said, "Then, I'll take back The Pelican Brief, wrapped in foil."
"... and then I'll give you what you really want. A Tom Clancy novel. Everyone loves war fiction." He got quiet. He didn't say shit. "I'll fucking murder you, Shane. You robbed me. You fucking die from this." Then he hung up.
In 2017, the guy I ripped off for his brick of heroin was found guilty, with four other guys, of raping and murdering a 13 year old girl. They were all prominent MS-13 gang members. He got LWOP'd in his sentence. So it looks like he won't be killing me.
... and that's the story of the time I bought a van with a brick of heroin in it that belonged to an MS-13 gang member, sold the brick, and then sold him his van back with a wrapped up John Grisham novel, for $10,000. Somehow, I didn't die.
Since I'm going viral, and I don't have a SoundCloud to promote: We're in the middle of an opioid crisis. Heroin is an opioid. Please donate to "The Center" -- https://www.centeronaddiction.org/donate
Also, fuck the entire Sackler family for being the biggest drug dealers in the world.
I need to tell you all the truth. I lied. I made it all up. https://medium.com/@IamShaneMorris/i-lied-i-made-the-whole-thing-up-now-im-in-huge-trouble-e59da5831105 …
I wanted my life to be a movie, and now it is, but in the most unintended way. If this story had been real, it would have ended with me going into hiding. Now, I'm being forced to live that reality. I'm sorry y'all. https://www.gofundme.com/i-need-to-go-into-hiding …
Good news for all you snarky people: If the GoFundMe fails, I get murdered, and this whole things becomes a documentary, rather than a drama.
In my own way, I'll become Twitter Jesus -- where I die, so others may have a contest to see who can leave the funniest comment.
You can follow @IamShaneMorris.