I am a Facebook friend of Bruce Perlowin.
Svetlana Ogorodnikova who passed away on the 12th (see my last tribute to her Facebook post) had a very fascinating and unusual life. We spent 40 years together on and off and I was by her side when she passed:
The Spy In Wanda’s Mystery Basement
Posted on December 24, 2012 by Royal Rosamond Press
Above are photos of the famous Russian Spy, Svetlana Ogorodnikov with FBI Agent, Miller. Svetlana was also involved with another FBI agent, Chuck Latting. I took the photo of the photo of Bruce’s alleged wife hanging on the wall in Wanda’s basement where Bruce lived for around four months thanks to the generosity of Wanda Harkis who I considered my surrogate mother. For over twenty five years Wanda had me in her home to celebrate Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The last time I had a holiday dinner with a member of my family was 1969.
Last night I had a dream about Wanda. Alas, I got to say goodbye. Due to the legal battle James and Michael Harkins began weeks after their mother’s death – that was wretched and disrespectful to her memory – there was no grieving period. It reminded me of what I first saw when I was in the Harkin’s house on Pinehaven. Wanda brought home bags of groceries her sons did not help her carry into the house, and no sooner did she get them in the kitchen, then down they swoop The Harkins Harpie, they tearing the bags to shreds looking for the choicest items to carry to their rooms that would later be used in the Trade Wars. Wanda’s food would be bartered and bickered over. Wanda retreated to her room.
In this dream I came upon Wanda’s YARD SALE. She was moving and selling everything she owned. To attract buyers to this event, she had baked cookies and cakes that were for free. I wondered why she wasn’t selling them.
Looking around for something I wanted, I opened a cupboard, and there was Jeffery fast asleep. I woke him. He was so glad to see me, and I him. We had forgotten about Jeffery, and I made the mistake of telling him his mother was moving. He went into a panic. Where was he going to live. In whose heart?
I was always welcome in Wanda’s home because I had formed a close bond with all three of her sons, something that is not easy to do. Two years ago Michael Harkins accused me of trying to incorporate his being and history into my blog. He was on death’s door. As his legal battle waged with his brother, Michael sucked my being into the blood-feud. Sensing I had enough, or, was not loyal enough, he promised me he would buy me a used Buick when he got his share. We had been talking about Jeffery’s car. I believe it was a Buick.
When I found Michael alive three days ago he said I never met Bill Linhart and Michael McClure, and did not know Bruce Perlowin like he knew him. Micahel met Bruce through his ex-wife, or ex-girlfriend. Michael said I got it wrong, that Rebecca was not married to Bruce, but, the article above says otherwise. Again, my long time friend accused me of glomming on to the famous folks he knows, he being asked to contribute to Stone’s movie about Jim Morrison. He declined, saying this movie would not do Jim Justice. There is no movie in the works about McClure or Linhart. However, there are to movie scripts about my late sister that are being hawked in Hollywood. A major motion picture is coming out about Bruce. No one wants Michael’s story, as yet. I wonder why? Will a movie be made from my autobiography? I wonder who will play Michael Harkins, who on the way to Rosamond’s funeral, told me to open the brown bag on the seat. Inside was a coloring book, with a box of crayons. y
When I met Bruce I was authoring ‘Bond’s With Angels’ in hope all my siblings would get sober so we could get back together – and maybe spend a Christmas together. On Wanda’s front porch I talked to Bruce for about a half hour about my Twelve Step program, and if he was really interested in saving the world, then he might consider giving an anti-drug message, employing his fame to do so. In a week Michael and Bruce were in a school in the ghetto. The Messenger had arrived! I tried to object to El Friendo about Bruce being two-faced, but, my opinions were not welcome. Bruce and Michael were going places.
I called up Michael Macor of the Oakland Tribune and told him he had been used. When Macor told me he had eleven years sobriety, I was incredulous. Why? Macor told me he owed Bruce one because an article he wrote led to his arrest. HUH???????????? Bruce not only ses a grown man in recovery, this founder of Marijuana Inc. enlists seventh-grade CHILDREN in his promotion scam. Bruce took my words to him, and used my program to get a foot in the door. At the time, no one wanted his story as he shared it with anyone that would listen. Is this a new form of child and drug abuse?
Today, Bruce is the most Pro-Drug dude on the world wide web. Down in Wanda’s basement, on a huge blackboard Bruce drew up his master plan. There were submarines and trams bringing high tech computers into Russia past those who would prevent this plan to take over the world. Svetlana used Miller to get high tech information. Hmmmmm!
I was reading about the Priory de Sion when I met Bruce. I saw him as a player. When I discovered the Roza Mira prophecy, I had to wonder.
I cover the waterfront because some folks got something to hide, while at the same time, promoting their better side.
If I won $100 million, I’d give half of it to my wife to be, and then spend the rest on helping to change the world, feeding starving children or creating an environment to make sure there were no starving children anywhere and other social causes as well as creating communities made up of Kin’s Domains as discussed in the series of books called “The Ringing Cedars of Russia” by Vladimir Megre (which sold over 10 million copies in Russia alone, and has been translated into 20 languages) and is an actual template for that global change we never finished from the 60’s.
However, I embraced the new 60’s generation hippie movement and wore bell bottom jeans, long hair and a scarf around my knee (which meant I was against the war). Jim Daughitt during home room taught me all about Eastern philosophy and concepts like reincarnation, karma, dharma, human auras, prana, vegetarianism, yoga and meditation. We would go on weekends to the Theosophical Society in Miami to read on these subjects, and once in awhile a dozen or more of us would skip school, go to Fairchild’s Gardens and take LSD for the day.
We went to Love-ins at Greynold’s Park and visited The Head Shop, The Micropile, yoga classes given by Yogi Rama in Coconut Grove Park and went to local concerts and festivals. I sold LSD at the pool hall next to the Cloverleaf bowling alley and nickel and dime bags and ounces of marijuana to other Norland Senior High classmates. My car had a big peace symbol painted on the hood and other slogans of the day like “make love not war”. The school didn’t quite know what to make of me – a gymnastic and weightlifting champion – yet a radical hippie embracing the counter culture and enjoying rock and roll music and unusual new ideas.
One childhood memory I’ll never forget was when over a dozen of us from high school skipped school and went to Fairchild’s Gardens and all took LSD (sorry, that was an in thing to do for the hippies of the 60’s). Anyway, at the Gardens I could look around and see individual friends, couples sitting alone, a group of friends sitting together talking and no one but us was in the park. Every one of the people, couples or groups of people were ones I had great fondness for, from liking them a lot to different levels and kinds of love towards them. It was for a moment like living in the Garden of Eden with loved ones and family.
With a major motion picture being done on my life story, I guess when my little brother (when he found out I was going back into the “medical” marijuana industry again – even though this time it’s totally legal) Jed said, “Is this what you want to be remembered for – marijuana”? I answered, “I guess that’s my calling – and it happens to be an industry I love – for way too many reasons to explain very briefly – but mostly because with The Hemp Network – I truly believe we can all collectively change the world for the better – and that is my calling”.
So I invite everyone to join me in spreading the word about industrial hemp by signing up in The Hemp Network today. The hemp movement says that hemp can save the planet, which is a pretty farfetched idea at first glance. However, just a small bit of research (like reading the late Jack Herer’s book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” available on our website) or watching a few of the short videos on our website will make even the most skeptical person scratch his head and think – gee, this does make sense – maybe hemp really can save the planet.
Medical Marijuana, Inc., is slated to appear on 60 Minutes’ Rocky Mountain High show today, Sunday, October 21 at 7:30pm EST. The airing will be a huge achievement in the now thriving medical marijuana and industrial hemp industries, as 60 Minutes is the most successful news television broadcast in U.S. history, drawing well over 13 million viewers a week.
Surveillance Photo of Richard Miller and Svetlana Ogorodnikov
Original caption:June 4, 1985 – Los Angeles: In this FBI surveillance photo released 6/4/85, former FBI agent Richard Miller (wearing white shirt with dark pants), who is charged with conspiring to sell classified government information, walks with Svetlana Ogorodnikov. She and her husband Nikolai have been accused of conspiring to spy with agent Miller.
Convicted spy testifies in San Diego murder case
By Ben Fox The Associated Press
Thursday June 27, 2002
SAN DIEGO — In halting and heavily-accented English, a former Soviet spy recounted Wednesday how she became an FBI informant in a murder-for-hire case.
Svetlana Ogorodnikova this week is testifying as a key government witness, seven years after her release from prison. She was convicted of seducing a Los Angeles FBI agent into selling a confidential document to the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
After serving half her 18-year sentence, Ogorodnikova was released and spent several years fighting deportation from the United States — an effort she gave up by moving to Tijuana, Mexico, with a convicted drug trafficker she met and married in prison.
Ogorodnikova returned illegally to Southern California in 1999 and moved with her husband to a ranch in Fallbrook. The ranch was owned by Kimberly Bailey, who is now on trial in federal court on charges of having a San Diego private investigator tortured and murdered in an abandoned house in Tijuana.
Bailey repeatedly asked Ogorodnikova if she could hire a hitman to kill witnesses and others involved in the murder of the private investigator, Richard Post, the Russian woman testified.
“I became very scared,” said the former spy, dressed in a dark blue suit, her hair cut short. “I think maybe she’d forget, maybe she’s not serious.”
Bailey is accused of having Post kidnapped, tortured over five days in Tijuana, and then murdered because she believed he cheated on her with other women and stole money from her.
Bailey has pleaded innocent to conspiracy to murder a person in a foreign country and other charges. Through her lawyer, she has insisted that Post is alive and in hiding.
FBI agents who had the Fallbrook ranch under surveillance approached Ogorodnikova, who agreed to covertly tape conversations over the phone and in person with Bailey.
The Russian woman, according to the tapes, set up a meeting in the Mandalay Bay casino between an FBI agent posing as a hitman and Bailey, who allegedly wanted to have him kill several people involved with Post’s slaying.
In their conversations, Ogorodnikova said she and Bailey developed a code. Examples included “brother” or “lawyer” to mean hitman and “investigation” to refer to murder. “It was like a spy movie, like in James Bond,” she testified.
Bailey’s defense attorney, Philip DeMassa, said he hoped to use Ogorodnikova’s past to convince jurors that she is not a reliable witness.
“She’s an experienced KGB agent and she’s lying about everything,” he said outside the federal courtroom.
Ogorodnikova pleaded guilty to espionage charges in 1985, after she admitted seducing Richard Miller, the first FBI agent charged with espionage.
The former Soviet spy had no trouble slipping back into the United States when a friend drove her across the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, where inspectors failed to check Ogorodnikova’s background, according to her husband, Bruce Perlowin.
The Bailey trial is expected to last several more weeks.
Butler, a licensed investigator, started working for the original owner of the firm, former FBI Special Agent Charles Latting, two years after the firm opened in 1996, the website says. At that time, the firm operated under the name Corporate Intelligence Resources and specialized in undercover corporate work and investigative research for corporations and businesses throughout California.
The commander of a state Justice Department-led county drug task force and the owner of a Concord-based private investigations firm, nationally known for its “Mommy P.I.s,” have been booked into county jail on suspicion of conspiring to sell drugs.
Special agents from the Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, arrested Norman “Norm” Wielsch, a 12-year veteran of the bureau, Wednesday in Benicia. Wielsch was arrested on 22 felony counts. The charges are related to the distribution of methamphetamine, marijuana and steroids, bureau spokeswoman Michelle Gregory said.
During an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes while he was in prison, colleagues observed that Miller had at one time lost his gun and FBI credentials. Additionally, Svetlana Ogorodnikov alleged that Miller had initiated the affair and had forced himself upon her. When confronted with these accusations by Mike Wallace, Miller demurred, stating that of the two, he was by far “more enthusiastic” in their “lovemaking”.
On October 3, 1984, Miller was arrested with Svetlana and Nikolai Ogorodnikov, Russian immigrants who had moved to Los Angeles in 1973 to seek refuge, but who were actually access agents of the Soviet KGB. Miller was alleged to have provided classified documents, including an FBI Counterintelligence manual, to the Ogorodnikovs after demanding $50,000 in gold and $15,000 cash in return. Miller, who had eight children and was faced with financial difficulties, was having an affair with the married Svetlana Ogorodnikov, and was preparing to travel with her to Vienna at the time of his arrest. It was later alleged that Svetlana Ogorodnikov had been in touch with a KGB case officer working out of the Soviet Consulate in San Francisco and had made arrangements for Miller to meet with the KGB in Vienna.
U.S. law enforcement agencies investigate the case of illegal shipments of U.S. high-tech equipment for the Russian Defense Ministry. New details have emerged about yet another US-Russian spy scandal. Three of the alleged “agents of the Russian government,” are staying in Russia. The Kremlin has not commented on the situation yet, while diplomats do not hurry to confirm the fact that the “spies” hold Russian citizenship.
BRUCE PERLOWIN, DON STEINBERG, AND THE FBI
Dear Roger Wilco,
True, neither the SEC nor FBI has as their high priority busting pump-and-dump schemes on the OTC Pinksheets.
But the FBI has a very keen interest in Bruce Perlowin and Don Steinberg. Trust me on this one thing.
To wit, the U.S. Marshalls Service violated Svetlana Ogorodnikova’s parole last year.
Ms. Ogorodnikova is Perlowin’s wife.
And don’t forget: Ms. Ogorodnikova was responsible for seducing and flipping the first FBI special agent to have ever been convicted of treason (Richard Miller). He was flipped for the promise of a mere $50,000 in gold.
The FBI’s “collective memory” does not quickly forget such things.
Incidentally, Ms. Ogorodnikova got lucky. She did not serve her full term. She was released in a spy-for-spy exchange. Russia released a scientist named Igor Sutyagin, who had been giving documents to the Central Intelligence Agency. The United States of America released Ms. Ogorodnikova.
The intrigue did not stop there, but I can’t discuss it on a public forum.
Be advised that I’ve been tracking Perlowin and Steinberg for most of my career.
As a whistleblower, I initiated the FDA bust against Perlowin’s Energy Wellness scam. Indirectly, I also put his co-conspirator James Folsom behind bars.
Also, I investigated Steinberg’s GlobalCom 2000, One World Communications, Club VivaNet (CVIV.pk) and his other pyramid marketing frauds.
Needless to say, Steinberg learned a lot about pyramid marketing schemes. Currently, he has replicated that business model at the Hemp Network.
Just days after the expo, Cliff Perry, MMI’s former vice-president of business development who’d done a few years in prison decades ago on cocaine charges, was calling Perlowin a “rabid dog” who was bound for failure. Perry was broke and bitter, claiming to have footed the expo’s bills out of his own checking account. Many involved say that Perry was the brains of the operation while Perlowin was the enigmatic visionary. They butted heads throughout the weekend — Perry says Perlowin is flighty and loose with the facts; Perlowin says Perry is a tight-fisted dictator.
Despite this rather public meltdown of support — it was played out in part on the MMI stock bulletin board where Perry and Perlowin exchanged insults — Perlowin considers the expo a wild success. “We now have a runaway company,” he wrote in an e-mail.
If that’s true, his critics say it’s because Perlowin misled his investors. None of them were told that out of the 200-odd attendees at the L.A. event, only about 40 actually paid, a fact that might have dampened some enthusiasm for buying a franchise license. Nick Bird, a Nevada man who paid $100,000 for a license that weekend based in part on his belief that everyone paid to attend, was surprised to learn that ticket revenues were far lower than he thought. “Don’t print that,” he quipped when contacted later. But he added quickly that he still hopes to sell at least 500 tickets to a similar expo planned for June 12-13 at a Las Vegas venue still to be announced.
Like the others, Wickstrom considered Perry to be the yin to Perlowin’s yang. A company without ballast for the King of Pot’s whims, he said, is just too unpredictable to be involved in. He reminds those who are enamored of Perlowin’s outlaw past that the whole billion-dollar operation came crashing down in part because of the boss’s capricious attention span — he left a notebook filled with incriminating information in a booth at a Denny’s.
It was such a boneheaded move that FBI agent Chuck Latting sounded almost embarrassed describing for a CNBC documentary the big break in his till-then fruitless search for all the dope flooding into San Francisco in the early 1980s.
“The book was the key to everything we found,” Latting said on the documentary “Marijuana Inc.” “I couldn’t imagine that anybody who was somewhat competent running an organization would walk away leaving their most prized possession sitting in a booth at Denny’s.”
That discovery led to Perlowin’s eventual incarceration for nine years.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Bruce, but it’s been my experience that nothing really culminates with Bruce at the head of it,” Wickstrom said. “He’s brilliant … but none of it ever really comes to fruition. He’s a very likable guy. He’s very genuine. He’s got a big heart. But he’s like a shotgun blast.”
The King of Pot
Bruce J. Perlowin could give the CIA lessons in how to run an operation – or a country. By J.L. Pimsleur* – “The Berkeley Monthly” – November 1985
The biggest and most sophisticated marijuana smuggling organization in California history had its roots here in Berkeley, Richmond and Orinda. Details of the incredible operation of Bruce J. Perlowin came to light in September after the King of Pot was brought to the Bay Area from Texas as part of the federal government’s ongoing investigation into his 200-man international organization.
Perlowin, a ponytailed, bespectacled, studious and mild-mannered man who looks more like Mr. Peepers than one of the world’s biggest drug dealers, is currently fighting government efforts to have him testify before a federal grand jury in San Francisco. He is being held temporarily in a San Francisco sheriff’s department cell at the Hall of Justice. Assuming a semi-lotus position during a series of jailhouse interviews, he said he turned down offers by federal prosecutors to let him “walk,” and took a 15-year prison term rather than snitch on his former employees.
“There’s nothing I can do about being called before the grand jury,” says Perlowin. “However, I have absolutely no intention of testifying against all the people who worked for me in my organization. If I planned to betray all my friends I would have done it two and-a-half years ago and never spent a day in jail.”**
The staggering scope of his operation began to surface after a federal indictment was brought in September against one of his former associates, Larry C. Donnie, a San Francisco attorney. Prosecutors accused the 44-year-old lawyer of acting as a “money manipulator” for Perlowin’s mammoth drug operation, which smuggled over 250,000 tons of marijuana into the United States between 1979 and 1983-using an entire West Coast fishing fleet to ferry the stuff.
Federal prosecutors allege that Donnie acted as Perlowin’s “front man” because, as a fugitive from a federal arrest warrant in Florida, the boss could not make investments in his own name. Donnie was charged with illegally purchasing and concealing thousands of dollars in assets for Perlowin, including a Cessna airplane and a house in Ukiah.
The house is not exactly your basic rural fixer-upper. A $3 million armored fortress on a 246-acre plot, the house included a $100,000 gymnasium; a complete automobile repair shop; voice-activated, electronically controlled drapes; a steel-lined, bulletproof, computer-controlled central command post; 16 surveillance cameras with night-vision capability; a 14-line telephone and telex system; and a spiral staircase leading to the master bedroom which could be electrified to repel intruders.
To make the place feel homey, however, it also had solid-gold bathroom fixtures and $70,000 worth of carpeting, custom-made by the same firm that does the carpeting for the White House.
A special federal drug task force has been investigating Perlowin’s far-flung operation for nearly five years. According to U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello, 30 of Perlowin’s associates have already been convicted on various drug charges in four states – California, Florida, Georgia and Michigan – including some characters that are almost as intriguing as Perlowin.
Perlowin’s former partners in the Midwest, for example, were the Shure brothers. Well known in academic circles, Fred Shure is a brilliant, Harvard-educated former University of Michigan professor of nuclear engineering. His brother, Ned Shure, was the proprietor of one of the university community’s most profitable textbook stores. Together, the Perlowin-Shure connection is believed to have trucked some 100,000 tons of high-grade marijuana between the West Coast and Ann Arbor.
In a series of interviews in his holding cell at the Hall of Justice, Perlowin declined to discuss the charges against his associates, but admitted that the government’s charges against him were “accurate.”
A small, slightly-built, 34-year-old Floridian, Perlowin said he had been dealing drugs since the age of 17. Since moving his operation from Florida to California in 1975, he said he had imported $150 million worth of marijuana, mostly high-grade “Punta Roja” (red bud) pot from central Colombia and Thailand.
That’s the wholesale value. The FBI and the DEA estimate the street value of Perlowin’s imports at well over a billion dollars.
To run his vast operation, Perlowin operated a flotilla of ships that was larger than the navies of all but a handful of the world’s nations. His fleet consisted of 94 marine vessels – including the Polar Sea, a 120-foot ocean-going tug, a 90-foot North Sea trawler, a converted mine-sweeper, more than a dozen steel albacore fishing boats from 47 to 85 feet long, shrimpers, crab boats, bait boats, motor sailors’, 29 60-foot fiberglass barges, a string of speedboats and a surveillance and communications yacht. He directly employed more than 200 people and hired on others as needed, including captains and crews, boat stagers, fishermen, professional pot salesmen, computer operators, electronic technicians and radiomen.
His operation was so sophisticated it even included his own “counter-intelligence” unit, which monitored the movements of Coast Guard craft and kept track of DEA and FBI agents.
The actual smuggling operation worked like this: Growers in south-central Colombia would fly the marijuana to isolated coastal sections where there were no paved roads and no transportation by train or bus – nothing but big beaches and small villages. The bales of marijuana were kicked out of the planes as they flew low over the beaches. “We would hire whole villages to gather, store and secure the marijuana,” said Perlowin. “Meanwhile, we’d outfit our boats for whatever was in season. We’d rig for tuna during tuna season etc., and send the boats to Costa Rica to refuel get provisions and stand by. As soon as the radio message came that the stuff was on the beach, the boats could get here in a couple of days.”
Bur how did Perlowin’s people manage to offload thousands of pounds of pot in the heart of San Francisco Bay without being spotted?
Simple. He owned the pier.
A meticulous man with a talent for organization and a reverence for detail, before moving his operation from Florida to California Perlowin conducted one of the most remarkable research projects in the history of crime. He hired a Berkeley firm, Information On Demand, to analyze every major marijuana bust on the West Coast during the previous ten years. The idea was “to find out where everyone else had made their mistakes – and then design an operation to avoid them.”
The data disclosed that the weakest link in failed smuggling operations had been the vulnerability of the drop-off points – coves, estuaries, abandoned docks, vacant warehouses and so forth – over which the smugglers had limited and unreliable control. Perlowin eliminated that problem by buying his own dock, a 1,000-foot concrete pier in San Francisco Bay. It was ideally situated, just north of the Red Rock Marina in Richmond.
“Logistically, it was one of the finest offloading spots in the country,” says Perlowin. “It was 40 minutes by boat from the Golden Gate Bridge and right in the radar shadow of the Richmond Bridge.”
Perlowin’s boats would come in to dock and “disappear” – drop off the radar screen. In effect, he said, they would become “invisible.” Perlowin maintained that it was safer to “hide in plain sight” – run his boats in and out of a heavy traffic area – than call attention to himself by trying to sneak around some estuary in Mendocino.
The theory worked to perfection “In Florida,” he says, “you bring in a boatload of fish and everyone thinks its marijuana. In San Francisco, you bring in a boatload of marijuana and everyone thinks its fish.”
Meanwhile, the money-laundering arm of his operation was stretching half way around the world – from a gambling casino in Las Vegas to a pair of trust companies in Luxembourg to banks in the Cayman Islands, Netherlands Antilles, Panama, Costa Rica and the British West Indies, to a loan brokerage firm in Sarasota, Florida, and back to a string of shell corporations in Nevada.
Headquarters for the Perlowin operation moved around the Bay Area. “The Ukiah house I considered a home and didn’t do business there as a general rule,” he says. Business was conducted out of a house in Berkeley, an apartment in San Francisco and a house in San Rafael. Headquarters for running the dock and houseboat building company he owned (called Shelter Engineering) was an office in San Anselmo.
Marijuana sales headquarters were in various “stash houses” or ranches his operatives bought and rented north of San Francisco. They purchased three such houses outright, with a total value of approximately $1 million, and rented half-a-dozen others.
Perlowin’s VIP headquarters was a house in Orinda lived in by a distinguished-looking 62-year-old gentleman, and impeccable dresser, highly-educated – an individual Perlowin calls “a perfect front man for the organization.” This house, lavishly furnished, was used to entertain the Colombians as well as bankers and businessmen connected primarily with the money-laundering end of the operation.
Surveillance headquarters was a rented house in San Rafael, on a mountain top in direct line of sight of the dock. From here the North Bay was monitored with powerful two-man binoculars and broad-band scanners. A voice-activated tape player recorded all police, Coast Guard, DEA, FBI and other law enforcement radio transmissions. The tapes were reviewed nightly.
The South Bay was monitored from a 37-foot Pacesetter motor home parked on property which Perlowin’s organization rented on Skyline Boulevard. From the outside the motor home looked perfectly normal. Inside, however, it was packed with $1 million worth of sophisticated electronic equipment that not only enabled Perlowin to keep in radio contact with his own boats, but to track every Coast Guard craft from Panama to Alaska and Hawaii. He also tracked all routes flown by the Coast Guard’s surveillance planes.
CB antennas were mounted in the rearview mirrors. Then antenna for Perlowin’s marine single-sideband radio was concealed inside the motor home’s flagpole, with the American flag flying on top. High in several redwood trees on the property were mounted other antennas for marine VHF radios and broad-band scanners. To insure privacy, Perlowin own communications were carried out over his own secret frequencies – accomplished by having his electronics experts shave the standard crystals to specifications that enabled him to transmit and receive in-between regular frequencies.
At one point it struck Perlowin that his communications network was far superior to anything that the local Office of Emergency Services could muster. In a major emergency, he noted, all radio frequencies would be jammed from overuse.
Never one to think small, Perlowin had his own plan. If a major earthquake or other disaster struck the Bay Area, he had contingency plans to mobilize his entire organization to assist in the rescue operations. “With all our boats, trucks, 4-wheel drive vehicles, vans, pick-ups, wagoneers, jeeps, emergency repair trucks and spotter cars, and our ability to communicate with each other by radio – not to mention personnel used to working under dangerous and stressful conditions – we would have made an impressive impact helping the authorities,” Perlowin mused. “When the emergency was over we’d disappear and go back underground.”
But Perlowin’s altruism will never be tested. In March 1983, in Chicago, he was finally arrested. Ironically, what he was doing there had nothing to do with any drug deals. He was on his way to a three-day White Tantric Yoga seminar conducted by his spiritual advisor, Yogi Bhajan.
Despite his painstaking planning, in the end it was not his marijuana operation that tripped him up, but his money-laundering organization. One of his operatives in Sarasota, under pressure from the Feds on a separate drug rap, cut a deal for himself by handing over compromising documents on Perlowin’s money-cleansing methods to the FBI.
When he was busted, Perlowin had marijuana shipments contracted for – or already on the high seas – worth $120 million.
Through it all, Perlowin insists, he is proud of one thing. He stood firm on a basic principle: He never dealt cocaine, which he considers a “vicious and destructive” drug peddled by “violent people.”
Perlowin now spends his days in Federal Prison in Texarkana, and rarely has any man adjusted so well to prison life. Perlowin claims his confinement has improved his self-discipline and helped him to purge himself of “negative habits” (such as drug smuggling almost exclusively – to the exclusion to other meaningful life endeavors). He virtually vibrates with inner peace.
His days now, he says, are the “most calm and relaxed of my life.” A vegetarian, he says he meditates twice daily and reads 15 books a week. He is using his time to study for three degrees and, by the time he gets out of prison, he expects to hold PhD’s in nutrition, psychology and criminology.
Perlowin said he plans to combine the formidable organizational skills he developed as one of the world’s biggest drug dealers with his knowledge of Yoga, meditation and nutrition to forge a revolutionary new holistic approach to prison reform and rehabilitation.
He insists that the current prison system is in a “shambles,” with an 84 percent recidivism rate. “Everyone agrees it isn’t working.”
But he maintains that his method of reducing stress and changing violent behavior through Yogic techniques can turn the system around and produce at least an 80 percent success rate.
With the support of prison authorities, he’s already been allowed to put some of his theories into practice in a small pilot program in Texarkana.
“I’ve been an outlaw half my life,” he notes, “So I certainly comprehend the criminal mind.” On the other hand, he adds, he also understands the humanistic approaches that are necessary to genuinely alter the criminal’s conception of himself and society.
The private prison business is on the verge of becoming a $200 million industry,” Perlowin says with a modest smile, and he’s confident that when he’s released, sometime around 1990, he’ll be in the forefront of that business.
“Who,” he asks, “is better qualified?”
*J.L. Pimsleur is an award-winning reporter who has interviewed everyone from Fidel Castro and Malcolm X to Marilyn Monroe.
**True to his word, Bruce Perlowin never did testify against the far flung members of his organization and did all his time in prison. Because of that at least 100 people form the Perlowin Marijuana Smuggling Organization were never charged with any crimes.