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 he was doing much more than filling up his lunchbox. Starting to hang-glide at just 14-years of age, Marco quickly realised a natural talent. By 16 he was competing internationally, with his first overseas trip to Bogotá, Colombia — Pablo Escobar’s turf. Marco won; he flew home with a gold trophy in his hands and white powder 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; flying gave him the means to traffic. 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 American, 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. – Marco
The trafficking catapulted Marco into a playboy lifestyle. It gave him his own cash for the first time and the freedom to fly. He’d often soar above Rio, sometimes 3,000 feet up, so high that the arms of the famous Christ statue faded, and disappeared. Sometimes he’d circle the skies with 10 to 20 others, flying close enough for a chat, before swooping like a god with adrenalin in his veins and peace in his heart. To enhance this bliss and awe, he’d often smoke a joint before launching.
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.