I’ve been playing narcotics in Brazil for a long time. My friend Beto put me in this business when I was a little boy. He pushed me to get cocaine, not for business – he’s a user. He would bring me to the bottom of the favela, stop the car far away, and say, ‘Go.’ Then I walk up 20 minutes, all the way to the top of the mountain with my schoolbag, past 20 dangerous policemen with guns. At the top they call . . . ‘Little boy, what you want? Black or white?’ Black is marijuana, white is cocaine. ‘I want white.’ ‘Ooh, good boy.’ I say, ‘I like cocaine.’ Bullshit. I never used the cocaine. I was a little boy, I was a child. I go up with my lunchbox and come down with a stack of cocaine for my friend.
It wasn’t long before Marco was doing much more than filling up his lunchbox. Starting to hang-glide at just 14 years, he quickly realised a natural talent. By 16 years he was competing internationally, with his first overseas trip to Bogotá, Colombia, Pablo Escobar’s turf. Marco won and flew home with a gold trophy in his hands and white snow in his pants.
Beto told me, ‘Marco, take this.’ So I arrive back in Brazil with seven hang-gliding pilots, a trophy and 100 grams of cocaine in my underwear. Nobody checked anything.
To Marco it was the perfect set-up; trafficking drugs gave him the means to fly, and flying gave him the means to traffic. It catapulted him into a playboy lifestyle. On his second overseas trip to America, at 17, his career of commercial trafficking began.
Believe me, when I go to California there is [a man like] Pablo Escobar – a boss, selling drugs around Brazil, around the world – he came to me and says, ‘Marco, now listen to me. You go to America. I have many friends in America, international, so you can make more money.’ I take 3 kilos the first time, came through easy. There is another Pablo Escobar . . . came to my hang-glider.
I compete everywhere in the world and always I bring narcoba [drugs]. I take cocaine to America, to Italy, to Spain, to Portugal, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, everywhere. I’m a Brazilian champion, so when I come, they check but they don’t really check.
The trafficking gave Marco his own cash for the first time. It gave him freedom to fly, and he would often soar in the skies above Rio, sometimes 3000 feet up – so high that the arms of the famous statue of Christ would fade out, then disappear. Sometimes he’d circle with 10 or 20 others, flying close for a chat, before swooping through the sky like a god – with adrenalin in his veins and peace in his heart. Often, to enhance the bliss and awe, he’d smoke a joint before launching off.
Ooh, it’s the best you know; a very good sensation if you smoke a joint to fly. Wow. I always smoke and fly, smoke and fly, you know, like meditation. I have flown many places in your country, you know. I fly everywhere over there: Adelaide, Stanwell Park, Byron Bay, the Gold Coast, I fly everywhere. I fly competition for 12 years, I always carry some cocaine.