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SNOWING IN BALI by Kathryn Bonella is a graphic insight into the hidden world of Bali’s top western cocaine bosses, many who first went to Bali to surf.

With unprecedented access into their lives Kathryn charts their rise to incredible wealth and power, their drug-fuelled lifestyles, filled with orgies, outrageous extravagance, multi-million drug deals, surfing and also their falls to the depths of hell when they’re busted.

Tracks will be featuring extracts from SNOWING IN BALI over the next weeks.

tracks image snowing
Is there more than meets the eye along Bali’s Bukit Peninsula? Photo by Kathryn Bonella


As hard as the drug dealers play, they also work at business, always trying to ensure they stay a step ahead of authorities by creating new methods of trafficking the cocaine. When surfboard bags and backpacks became overused and ‘too hot’, Rafael pioneered a new method, windsurfer booms.

He’d spent weeks studying sports equipment, pondering what to try next. The first boom he packed was the trickiest. He bought the equipment, then set to work in a beach bungalow with Poca.

It took them two full days of figuring it out to ensure it would be X-ray-proof.

It was a complex job to make the coke invisible. First they put it in a blender to turn it baby-powder fine, obliterating any rocks, then used a funnel to fill up the boom. Finally, they took their tailor-made metal rod, a coin welded to one end, to pound the coke hard down into the aluminium tube to cement it, and eliminate air bubbles. This first time, their technique was imperfect – they lost 2 per cent of the coke, as the fine dust blew all over the room, covering them.

windsurf booms el mundo photo
Spanish police discover a windsurfer pole packed with Cocaine. Photo by Spanish Federal Police/Snowing in Bali

I start punching the coke . . . suddenly, poof, the coke shoots out from the tube like a bullet from compression of air; we get coke in the eyes, in the face, and that shit comes in my mouth, on my skin. I start to feel itchy. It mixes with your circulation when you sweat and goes in your pores, makes you high. I was like, ‘Man, I don’t feel good.’ Breathing in all the powder, feeling dizzy, hallucinating from the dust, I start to see two people when I look at Poca . . . I say, ‘Let’s stop this shit, let’s close up, go to the beach and come back tomorrow.’ Fuck, it was a big job. That night my body was so tired, pain in my muscles, my hands full of bubbles, I can’t sleep. I was totally fucked. – Rafael

The next morning, a fine mist of snow had settled on the room, covering everything, and they quickly got high again. But they finished the job, sent the boom with its invisible kilo to Malaysia, made $65,000 and, most importantly, had a new winning method. The pair flew to Peru to teach their packers how to do it, under strict orders to keep it secret.

Obviously, there were no patents in the drug business, and before long horses (drug couriers) would talk, booms would get busted, and other traffickers would become aware of the method. But for now it belonged exclusively to Rafael and Poca.

Snowing in Bali cover high res (front only) copy
SNOWING IN BALI by Kathryn Bonella is published by Macmillan Australia and Hachette UK

Tracks magazine featuring Snowing in Bali