November 28, 2019 04:25 PM
March 4 is shaping up to be another gray and dreary winter day in Herzfelde, Germany. All is silent and still. The temperature is close to freezing and the town has just received a dusting of fresh snow.
A sound in the distance grows louder and materializes into a line of vehicles speeding down Rüdersdorfer Street. Police officers spill out. They bust down doors, canvas the area with sniffer dogs and begin tearing apart a VW bus and a Chevy Camaro.
It was the snow that drew them — not the stuff of snowball fights and slippery walkways, but a pure, white powder that goes for 70,000 euros ($77,149) a kilo in Europe.
The authorities find 12.8 grams of cocaine stashed over a third-floor stairwell and another 214.3 grams in a garage. There are also micro scales, plastic vials and a shoebox full of cash. All an hour’s drive east of Berlin.
At a gas station near the edge of town, they apprehend the man behind the illicit operation. He is identified as René F., 42, a car salesman-turned-drug-dealer.
F. didn’t work alone. He employed his son Mike, his ex-wife Natalia and his new girlfriend’s son, Otto. It was a flourishing family business that offered same-day delivery. One phone call was all it took for customers to place an order. In the Berlin nightlife scene, it’s known as the “cocaine taxi.”
Everything was going smoothly until March 4.