A few things to know about Jorge & Me
- I CAN’T FIND HIM – I’m his biographer, but I don’t know where he lives – not his street, not his city, not his state. I’ve never met his family. I don’t even know their names. Salcedo is the family name they left behind in Colombia when they entered the U.S. witness protection program 20 years ago.
- HOW WE MET – Our first meeting in 1998 took place in a nearly empty federal courtroom in Miami where Jorge was appearing before a judge. Two bodyguards from the U.S. Marshal’s Service provided protection even in that setting. I spoke with Jorge for no more than 10 minutes. But that was the beginning of a decade-long professional and social collaboration that continues… along with those secrets that make ours the oddest of friendships.
- HIS MOST SHOCKING REVELATION – From a thousand hours of interviews, the biggest surprise to me (by far) was Jorge’s disclosure late in the project that his children didn’t know his story… and that At the Devil’s Table would serve as the first full explanation to his family of how they ended up in the United States. I was stunned. I’m still amazed when I think about it.
- JORGE’S FEAR OF FAME – The book about him was a bestseller in his native Colombia. In the states, it topped the hardcover true crime list in the Wall Street Journal for weeks. It’s been published around the world in five languages. And an 80-episode Spanish language TV series based on the book is airing on Netflix. Yet, Jorge can’t appear anywhere in public, except in disguise.
- WHY HE SPOKE OUT — One of the first questions I asked Jorge was about his motivation in agreeing to tell his story to a reporter. This was long before any interest had been expressed by book publishers or TV and film producers. There was no financial reward for an article in the Los Angeles Times. But he wasn’t looking for money. “People should know what I know now,” he explained. He wanted people warned that “if you are invited into (organized crime), stop — stop and run away. Don’t think you can ever fully escape.”