This is part II of our interview with Dan ‘Tito’ Davis, renowned international fugitive and author. For part I, please go here.
“Eight and a half years!” says Dan ‘Tito’ Davis of his first prison sentence. “They couldn’t get me on a drug charge and they were all pissed off, so they nailed me for tax evasion.”
Tito was in many ways a victim of his own success; once supplied by the Mexican Mafia, Tito had become so successful that he had begun supplying them. He began to make more money than he could reasonably conceal, and the taxman came calling.
Time Served and Contact with the Medellín Cartel
“I never expected to serve more than a third,” recalls Tito. “It was my first offence. But the prosecutor wrote the parole board, and I ended up serving five years.”
But his time in prison wasn’t wasted. Tito finished his bachelor’s degree whilst inside, and – in what would later become crucial – made some important contacts. “I’d been teaching these Latin guys English and they’d been teaching me Spanish, and it turns out they’re Pablo Escobar’s guys – the [Medellín] Cartel!”
Tito had also finished his theoretical flight training whilst inside, and when he got out, he tried to put this to legitimate use. Unfortunately for him, the US government soon shut him down. “They said I was guilty of a crime of moral turpitude, so they grounded me.”
Tito relocated to Las Vegas, where he tried to obtain a realtor’s licence. Once again, the authorities were on-hand to block him. Tito, once accustomed to the high life, refused to be cowed. “I wanted something where I could comfortably live. I didn’t wanna be scraping by on rice and beans.”
Unable to work legitimately and having no other recourse, Tito got in touch with his Colombian contacts. So it was that in the early 1990s, he became involved in the pot-smuggling business.
“I’d already learnt my lesson about wearing gold chains and buying nice cars. So I arranged with the Cartel to have my money sent into Mexico.”
Wiser and more cautious for his previous tangles with the law, Tito wasn’t about to take any chances. But his ultimate undoing didn’t arise as a result of his own carelessness, but that of a childhood friend’s.
A Second Betrayal and a Hard Choice
“I’d known this guy since we were kids – we’d gone to Sunday school together,” says Tito of his friend ‘Mark’, the man who would ultimately sell him out. “He came to me and said ‘I need some pot’. So I gave him a few pounds of pot.”
Tito continued to supply Mark with pot for a while. But Mark had a dark secret of which Tito was unaware. “This guy was cooking meth out of his trailer!”
Mark didn’t quite have Tito’s level of caution when it came to flying under the radar. “This guy was calling pharmaceutical companies from his phone trying to get supplies. He eventually sold meth to the DEA.”
The DEA set up a sting and arrested Mark. It didn’t take him long to flip and implicate Tito. “He told them that he got the meth from me. These people had been chasing me for years – they couldn’t believe their luck.”
Mark arranged to meet Tito to discuss their business. But unbeknownst to Tito, he was to be the victim of the DEA’s latest sting.
“Cops jump out of the bushes and cuff me and haul me off to jail. And [Mark] goes home.”
Tito spent a couple of months in county jail in Deadwood, South Dakota, before making bail. He was required to report in with the police and his parole officer daily. His lawyer made some inquiries and came back with nothing but dire news for him. The DA was determined to make an example of him; Tito was looking at life behind bars.
It was at that point that Tito made a decision that was to alter the course of his entire life: he decided to run.
Stay tuned for part III of our interview with Dan ‘Tito’ Davis.
Tito’s debut book, Gringo: My Life on the Edge as an International Fugitive, is available here. Tito’s travel blog, In The Wind, is at www.dantitodavis.com.