Author(s): Jesse Fink; Luis Navia
It's a life story that reads like something out of a John Grisham or Elmore Leonard novel that it's remarkable it has remained untold for so long.
Careers in the cocaine-trafficking business are usually short. It's not only a dangerous profession, fraught with the possibility of capture and long jail sentences, but it can be deadly if the cartels get to you first.
Not for Luis Antonio Navia.
For 25 years the Cuban-American smuggled hundreds of tons of white powder for the biggest cartels in Colombia and Mexico, including Pablo Escobar's Medellin Cartel.
In a profession populated by thugs, Navia's dress sense and good manners earned him the nickname 'El Senador' (The Senator). He refused to carry a weapon.
What made him good at his job was amassing trusted contacts, losing very few shipments of coke, and keeping a low profile. He also maintained a normal family life with a Colombian wife and two young children.
But he was never far removed from the most brutal violence imaginable.
One friend got his head cut off. Another was hit over the head, put in a 55-gallon drum full of cement and dumped in a canal. Navia himself was kidnapped three times and went close to being fed alive to crocodiles.
Somehow through it all he managed to survive and spent two decades fooling the DEA and other law-enforcement agencies.
That was until he came under the radar of Robert Harley, a tenacious US Customs special agent in Key West, Florida, who was determined to bring him to justice.
What followed was an international game of cat-and-mouse that culminated in Navia's 2000 arrest in Venezuela in one of the biggest antinarcotics takedowns of all time, the 12-nation Operation Journey.
Spanning decades, continents and featuring a who's who of the drug trade, Pure Narco is a fast-paced adventure ride into the dark underworld of cocaine trafficking, written with the cooperation of a dozen law-enforcement agents from the world's top antinarcotics forces in the United States and Great Britain.
It also contains insider insights into how the global drug business operates and offers some cogent solutions to the never-ending 'war on drugs'.
Navia served his time in jail and is now free to tell his tale. His is the rare perspective of someone who has worked on both sides of that war- as a cocaine trafficker and US Government consultant.
This book is a redemption story. Luis Navia, the pure narco, has gone full circle.