An Officer and a Gentleman
Eric Spatz was the wild card in the Cannabis Crew. A seasoned Intelligence Officer, Eric did the things necessary to make any mission a success.
From being the first to volunteer to ride the first boat North from the the Shores of Santa Marta to being the undercover operative to scope out a new off-load spot, Eric brought courage and spontaneity that enabled many cannabis missions to go off without a hitch.
Eric and Skip still remain in close contact with one another after nearly 45 years on the frontlines of America’s failed War on Drugs. Explore more about this unique character in the history of Cannabis Smuggling with these remembrances directly from Skip:
W ho has the biggest balls? That award would go to Eric Spatz.
He was an Officer and a Gentleman. We all used to call him “Maniac” because no one would even think of doing the things that he would do with a casual attitude. When we were putting together the first “gig” to Colombia, we needed someone to ride the boat to insure our interests, guess who volunteered?
Eric was Will’s roommate at the Air Force Academy , way beyond brilliant, Eric was a certifiable genesis. He spoke a myriad of languages, including two dialects of Chinese, along with every other far eastern language. He picked up Spanish, just during his trips to Columbia and Panama. He always had a book in his hand, he was an voracious reader. His favorite read was military history, he knew everything about the military and military strategies. He always gave books as presents at any holiday and on Christmas. Of all of the Crew, Eric was the guy that could always get things done. Eric always had friends in all corners of the World, no matter where the Crew would venture, Eric would have a contact.
Eric and I were very close, and remain so to this day. From the early days when Eric and I were fishing together on the dock at the old homestead, until this day when they meet and celebrate their friendship in parts unknown. Eric was recruited by Will and Skip on a cold February day in 1972. They flew into Dulles International Airport and Eric was there on the private aircraft tarmac, next to a blacked out government sedan with two of his buddies from some agency standing there waiting for the boys to pick him up. He jumped aboard the boy’s plane and became one of the Crew. He coined the phrase “Gentlemen’s Sport” as it applied to our cannabis smuggling because that is how he viewed it based upon his experiences with the Government. He was at his best as an Intelligence Officer.
Adventure was in his blood, he was the leader of base camp for an assault on Mount Everest. He forged his way into places in Borneo, Laos and Burma where no one had ever journeyed before. At the same time he was at ease at the Swiss Army Officers Ball at the Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich. He would stay in shape by running marathons before it became popular to run marathons. Drink, he could drink with the best of them and be the last man standing.
That was and is Eric.