The current holder of the record for the fastest time in a powerboat between New York and Miami is a Columbian-American named George Morales. Morales achieved this honour in 1985, when he raced a catamaran with four 635-horsepower engines from one city to the other in nine hours and thirty-four minutes, earning him a prize of half a million dollars. Powerboat racing is so expensive, however, that even this amount of money would not have financed Morales’s sporting activities, which culminated in three successive years as Miami’s unbeaten, offshore powerboat champion. He had, in addition to powerboats, seven or eight vehicles valued at more than 30,000 dollars each, five or six maids and hangers-on, and an elaborate security system that included closed-circuit television and electronic gates. What made it all possible was Morales’s line of business, the importation and sale of very large quantities of cocaine.
Morales is well dressed, elegant, self-assured and was very good at his business. He had his own airline, Aviation Activities Corp., and kept an impressive fleet of planes right next to Hangar One at Opa-locka Airport, outside Miami. He had a stable of pilots with years of experience. Also on the payroll were presidents and generals throughout the Caribbean and Central America. His enterprise kept dossiers on south Florida’s Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and there were law enforcement officials at home and abroad who could depend on him for generous bribes.
But both business and pleasure came to a halt on 13 June 1986, when Morales was gaoled and eventually sentenced to sixteen years in prison.