TBT - (1979) "The Trouble With Shark Jaws"

After escaping from the civil war in Nicaragua in 1979 the opportunity to work in the seafood biz in Mexico came up. I went to Puerto Madero with a Mexican attorney who was in the seafood business and we set up a small facility on the beach to buy contraband shrimp.

All shrimp production in the country was controlled by the co-ops and banks - which created the opportunity for a black market. I was buying shrimp from small boats coming to my place after they did a cash deal with the shrimp boats off shore - before they went to port with their catch and received a smaller price per kilo at the docks. My biggest supplier was the local captain of the Mexican Coast Guard - the people who are supposed to stop the contraband trade.

One day the attorney and an official from the Dept. of Fisheries came to our facility and after a couple drinks and small talk the official asked the attorney: "Why do you have a gringo here doing this business for you?". The attorney replied: "Would you leave $20,000 cash here with a Mexican?". That got a good laugh out of every one.

After the shrimp season finished I went to Brownsville, Texas, and I spent some time with friends there. I had brought with me to Texas about two dozen dried out shark jaws that were purchased from fishermen in Puerto Madero. So with my buddy Jack we went out to South Padre Island and set up sales on the beach. We had been doing brisk sales until a Deputy Sheriff stepped forward and asked for our 'Occupational License'.

Twenty minutes later we are in front of the Justice Of the Peace in Port Isabel - his office looked like Judge Roy Bean should be presiding and the JP sure looked the role. After explaining the seriousness of our infraction of the law - he asked how much did we make on the shark jaw sales. I told the the truth - $74.00. Bang went the gavel: "Your fine is seventy four dollars!".

Dang! Another one of those times when I spoke too quickly. Probably could have got away with a thirty two dollar fine!