101. Earning Freedom with Michael Santos
Conquering a 45-Year Prison Term (1.1)
I’m reading from chapter 1 of my book, Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45-Year Prison Term
For more information, visit PrisonProfessors.com
I can feel the DEA agents waiting. I don’t know where or when they’ll strike, but I know they’re near. I’ve never been arrested before, and I’m scared. My wife, Lisa, sits next to me in our Porsche convertible, clutching my hand. We’ve only been married five months. She’s a glamorous South American blonde who looks spectacular in her form-fitting designer clothes, better still in a bikini. With her beside me, I feel powerful. I’ve built my life on extravagance and appearances, and Lisa completes the image I want to project. She’s five years older than I am and I always try to appear strong for her–man enough for her. I don’t want her to see my fear, but inside I’m shaking.
Shadowy forces feel like they’re closing in, but I don’t have a grasp on what’s coming. Instinct, intuition, a sense of impending doom keeps crowding my consciousness. This high-flying life is about to change. I can feel it.
Lisa and I have just left Miami where I learned from Raymond, a well-known criminal lawyer I’ve had on retainer, that a grand jury in Seattle just indicted me on drug trafficking charges. Raymond said that my arrest was imminent and that the criminal charges I’m facing could include the possibility of decades in prison. After hearing that unsettling news, I followed his instructions and gave him my diamond-faced Rolex to hold. Then I told Lisa how to make arrangements for his $200,000 fee.
After leaving Raymond’s office, I drive us toward the Rickenbacker Causeway that leads to Key Biscayne. Despite my attorney’s warning, I’m going home. He convinced me that a huge difference existed between an indictment and a conviction. By paying Raymond all the money I’ve got to fight the case, I’m hoping for a fresh start from the mess I’ve made of my life. I’ve been miserable for months, knowing that I needed to make a change.
We arrive at the entry into Key Colony, the private oceanfront community on Key Biscayne where Lisa and I live. The security guard raises the gate and I drive the Porsche forward. We make eye contact, and I sense resentment in his phony smile as he waves us through. I’m half his age, and for the past year I’ve driven through this gate every day in my flashy sports car with Lisa beside me, wearing a gold watch that cost more than he would make in a year. Today he’s sporting a smug grin. Maybe I’m paranoid. No, I shake my head as I accelerate through the gate and turn right. My gut roils with a subconscious awareness that I’ll never drive through this tropical paradise again.
I park in the garage beneath Botanica, the building where we live. Lisa and I walk arm-in-arm to the elevator, not speaking. I’m alert, watching, expecting the feds to rush me at any second. With heightened senses, I’m acutely aware of the salty ocean air filling my nostrils. My stomach churns as I push the elevator button and we ascend.
The elevator door slides open and we step onto the top floor. An open breezeway with palm trees and lush, tropical vegetation on either side leads to our apartment.
There they are, in front of us. The three men wearing dark blue jackets wait, eyeing me as I approach.
“Are you Michael Santos?”
In an instant, I see three guns aiming at my head.
“Freeze! Put your hands out where we can see them!” One of the agents then begins to recite my Miranda rights.
I comply with their orders. Lisa steps away from me, gasping. One agent clasps my hands behind my neck as he searches me for weapons, though I’ve never carried a gun. Then he lowers my arms, pulling them behind my back. I hear clicking and feel cold metal as he slams handcuffs over my wrists. When the agents see that I