- Apprehended – The Trials of Dickie Lynn
- by Domingo Soto
- Copyright – 2013
- Publisher – Domingo Soto
- 164 page (+ appendices)
Rating – 6.5/10
Summary – In the 70s and 80s, a group of boyhood friends from the Florida Keys fell into the cocaine and marijuana trade, importing tons into the United States over many years. When the other shoe inevitably dropped, many of them went to federal prison where one of them (Dickie Lynn) remains to this day. Lynn’s attorney, Domingo Soto, uses Apprehended to tell the story and to make his case that Lynn’s punishment is unfair. The book is a middling success.
In a nation of frightened dullards there is a sorry shortage of outlaws, and those few who make the grade are always welcome… they have that extra “something”. – Hunter S. Thompson
At its best, attorney Domingo Soto’s Apprehended shows that Thompson was onto something. His tale of 70s and 80s drug smuggling has enough hooks to grab any adventure- hungry reader –
- exotic locations (the Florida Keys, Miami, Belize, the Bahamas, Colombia, New Orleans, Castro’s Cuba, and the swamps of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama),
- planes/boats/cars (sailing in rough weather, cigarette boats, planes taxiing as police try to block runways, multiple plane crashes – some of them fatal),
- a former Miami Hurricane football football player who became a smuggler,
- A shady, double crossing New Orleans attorney,
- offshore bankers who don’t ask too many questions,
- dumped contraband,
- Cops and prosecutors determined to shut down the ring,
- a daring, successful escape from federal prison, and
- double crossing and snitching.
One reason few of us “make the grade” as outlaws, is that criminals generally pay the piper in the long run. The first part of Apprehended concerns the smuggling and the second part covers the outlaws’ comeuppance. Predictably, vice is more interesting than is virtue and Soto struggles to maintain Apprehended’s momentum after the ring unravels.
And there are other issues…
Soto worked in journalism for many years before becoming an attorney. So, it disappointed me that Apprehended is so poorly edited. (For instance, Soto consistently misspells Colombia as “Columbia,” Sumter County (Alabama) is Sumpter, etc.)
The more serious issue is poor organization. The smuggling ring was chaotic with multiple, overlapping networks and with dozens of people dropping in and out of it. It is very difficult to follow the chronology and to remember “who’s who.” To his credit, Soto includes a timeline at the end of the book, which pulls together many of these loose threads.
Another aspect of the book that frustrated me was that some threads were introduced and never pursued. For instance, Soto makes reference to Dickie Lynn spending time in prison early in his life, but never says anything about it. Given that Soto is trying to convince the reader that Lynn should be freed, I wondered if I was hearing the entire story.
Which leads to the next topic…
Apprehended works well as a tale of life on the edge. But Soto is after bigger game here. He seeks to indict the justice system for the decades-long sentences handed down to drug traffickers.
This aspect of the book is a hard sell because Dickie Lynn has plenty of dirt on his hands. Even if one sympathizes with Lynn, Apprehended offers little to nothing on how the United States should deal with drugs. Legalization – at least of some drugs – now has millions of advocates. However, if legalization came about, Dickie Lynn and his fellow smugglers would be squeezed out of the market by professional businesspeople (much as the mafia lost out when prohibition of alcohol ended). The Dickie Lynns of the world would either have to get out of the business or smuggle those drugs that remained illegal.
Soto doesn’t go there. He says nothing about the larger philosophical questions regarding drugs. However, he does castigate those who worked to put Dickie Lynn away, including prosecutor Gloria Bedwell; among other things, Soto calls Bedwell “A hard-shell Christian…” with “…a zealot’s passion” (p. 58). A young Jeff Sessions was also involved in the prosecution. However – despite a tease regarding Sessions in the book’s description – there’s nothing particularly interesting or scandalous in the “Sessions material.”
A Nice, Cheap Read
You can get a digital copy of Apprehended on Amazon.com for $3.99. Before purchasing it, you can read the first six chapters for free. It’s a quick, thought-provoking read and I’m glad that I read it.
Having said that, there’s nothing essential about the book. Dozens of books focus on the drug trade (e.g., Robert Sabbag’s Snowblind, Charles Nicholls’ The Fruit Palace, Bruce Porter’s Blow, etc.). Moreover, many of these books are better written than is Apprehended.