By Onell Crawford
For the past few months, The Gentlemen Smuggler's Cannabis Brand, Tidal League, and I have been discussing the opportunity to visit Charleston, South Carolina, to meet with Barry "Flash" Foy in person as well as visit some of the locations the smugglers used to evade detection while smuggling cannabis into the United States
In Charleston, I would also be meeting with the very talented Kevin Harrison, Brand Developer Producer, Editor, Creative Director and Thomas, "Captain" Culter, another creative genius who has extensive experience in the world of media and entertainment including true crime series and the Kingpin himself, Barry "Flash" Foy. The branding of the Gentlemen Smugglers brand is epic.
Collectively, these individuals make up the Gentlemen Smugglers Cannabis Brand. They have a strong focus on supporting those that have been impacted by the War on Drugs and this is reflected in their efforts to support organizations that are doing the work in helping those that have been impacted.
Barry "Flash" Foy, and his group of gentlemen Smugglers (Named gentlemen Smugglers due to their non-violent principles and love for the cannabis plant) smuggled upwards of 250 tons of cannabis From 1971 - 1986. This included smuggling into the US over 170 Tons of Grass and 60 TONS of Hash from Lebanon, Colombia and Jamaica.
Of course I had to get there first, which proved to not be as easy as you would think as airline mixups and no direct flights into Charleston made for a bit of chaos, that thankfully the wonderful airport staff were able to get me sorted, eventually.
After a good night's sleep, it was time to be up and ready to head to the dock of the Ashley and Copper Rivers for 9am to meet up with Captain Cutler and Barry Flash Foy.
Talk about southern hospitality. I was picked up in a stretch vehicle, chauffeured around and given a glimpse of the beautiful city. Cobblestone Road, Horse drawn carriages, and architecture dating back to the 16th century, added to that lowcountry charm.
Kevin and I met up with Thomas "Captain" Cutler, Dave the videographer, the man of the hour Barry "Flash' Foy, and boarded the 200hp boat to drive around The Ashley and The Copper Rivers visiting the docks that the gentlemen smugglers used back in the 70' and 80s.
With a little wind in the air and overcast weather, I found myself holding on for dear life as we splashed through 5 inch bathtub high waves and got baptised by the convergence of the 2 rivers and the Atlantic Ocean. My mind kept racing, if this was how it felt in the river, what would it have been like to spend days on end smuggling cannabis across the ocean?
Barry talked about his lifestyle during these times, the adrenaline rush of always looking over their shoulder as well as the rush for the next pickup. We chatted about when the Gentlemen Smugglers paid soldiers on both sides of the Lebanese civil war to stop fighting momentarily and help them load hashish into their boat.
Barry walked me through his adventures with his team back then smuggling cannabis from Jamaica in a small 10 foot boat and using the profits to scale their boats until they essentially owned an entire fleet. We discussed what it was like dodging the stripes (The coast guards) while unloading under the deep dark night with stars and the moon as their only source of light.
It was unbelievable to think of the multiple hundreds of pound bales of tied cannabis they would chuck up onto the dock or drive out their smaller boats to collect these bails when the marsh was too shallow for the larger boat. The coordination was incredible. Remember, there were no GPS systems back then and it was pitch black.
We visited the Stono river which is a tidal channel that wraps around Johns Island separating it from James Island and the mainland of Charleston Country. After the eventful baptism by salt water, we visited Reds Icehouse and watched the pelicans feast on the fish the fisherman left behind after their catch.
We hung out and visited the ocean where we came across dolphins in the ocean and jellyfish washed up on the shore. South Carolina is a beautiful state. The following day we went to the local radio station 96.3 Ohm Radio for a live recording of Barry "Flash" Foy's story on Cannabis Related the Pod.