I first met Righteous through another Jamaican who I had met during my early forays to the island. That man was a caretaker named Sunny. Sunny was a friend of Solomon’s and he was also the gardener and houseman next door to a villa that I rented on the ocean near Hopewell. At that time, my friends and I were on a junket to bring some suitcases full of pressed weed back to Canada in an intricate scheme involving Canadian Immigration clearance cards. Passengers returning to Canada in those days were first interviewed by Canadian Immigration and then handed a three–by–five–inch card and told to proceed to customs for baggage inspection. The three–by–five cards had several boxes with numbers beside them, one of which was labeled e–24. It was discovered that if the e–24 was ticked off by the immigration officer, a passenger holding that card would be sent straight through customs without a baggage search. If enough people were in on the smuggling scam the odds were high that at least one in a group of seven or eight returning passengers would be handed an e–24 card. Brian Kholder and his cousin Alexandra were along to carry the bags of weed through Canada Customs once someone in our group had slipped them an e–24 card after clearing Immigration. There were about ten of us working the scam on this particular occasion, all friends from work and high school or college. There was my wife and me. Ryan McCaan and his wife Sally, and Phil Robson and his girlfriend Paula. My buddy Robert Bishop was along without a date, as was Ross Mitchell, who was dismayed to learn that “ross” was the slang word for shit in Jamaica. We had rented a seaside villa in the Jamaican parish of Hopewell that was ideally situated near a source of marijuana that was grown in the nearby parish of Orange Bay. We chose the Hopewell villa because we were close to the Montego Bay airport, yet free from the many prying eyes of the hotel staff in town. While we waited for Righteous to arrange for the marijuana to be pressed and packaged in Orange Bay, the group of us lay about our rented villa in hedonistic splendor. As we lay lounging in ocean–side chairs, sipping brown cows by the pool and smoking copious amounts of weed, we discussed the possibilities of our impending wealth. We were smoking so much ganga that we found it expedient to pay Sunny to be our spliff roller.
Sunny was a solidly built man whose facial features looked carved out of dark stone. His demeanor was well suited for work as a caretaker and in the language of modern day psychology, he had more anima than animus in his character. Sunny was far from an ambitious soul. He had only one job to do for us, which was to roll joints, and whenever we asked him to do it, he would inevitably complain.
“You finish all dem spliff already, mon?”
Righteous was far more willing to work without complaining, and as time went on, I found myself relying more and more on Randall “Righteous” Solomon for many of my needs in Jamaica.
When I first met Righteous he was a “Moonie,” which was a religious cult that was spreading throughout the western world at the time. His bright eyes, short–cropped hair, and a willing attitude gave me confidence in him and he soon became my right–hand man. I saw a lot of Righteous and Sunny that first year in Jamaica as our group strung the e–24 scam out as long as we could. We had several back–to–back successes before the smuggling scam finally blew apart in Toronto. That was when four suitcases full of weed slid down the baggage ramp to the circular pickup ring in the luggage collection area and one of the bags broke open, revealing sticks of weed poking out. We left the bags on the turnstile, pulled the luggage tags from the four suitcases, and went home broke. I was almost glad the trip folded just then because “Bish the Fish” Bishop and Marvin “Manny” Maniezzo had been playing poker with me on the way down to Jamaica, with the payouts due only after and if the e–24 scam paid off. I was so deep in debt after the two card sharks fleeced me, that just about all of my end would have gone to them anyway.
Other scams came and went, as fate sent one smuggling opportunity after another my way. Through Righteous and his connections, I met the people I needed to expedite marijuana out of Jamaica in larger and larger shipments. Righteous introduced me to customs agents, aircraft maintenance personnel, and shipping brokers. He had so many contacts that it seemed to me that the whole of Jamaica was like one large extended family tied together by blood relations, tribal ties and financial gain. Even the police were available for a price, although my bias against authority never allowed me to use any police help. Feeding a cop is like feeding a bear, everything is great until the food runs out.