Germany's former largest drug dealer is dead. Ronald "Blacky" Miehling died of lung cancer last Tuesday at the age of 72. His life story is Hollywood-ready. In the 1990s he became the largest drug dealer in Germany. He smuggled tons of cocaine from Colombia to Germany and sold it at discounted prices. He was imprisoned for more than 30 years. Who was the man who said to the end, "I have no regrets"?
"We had two kilos of coke, and they were pretty big. We didn't even know where to put them. At some point someone took it, packed it in a sock, threw it in his suitcase and said: 'That's how it works'," it reported Miehling told the NDR about the start of his drug career in Colombia in 1988. The 38-year-old already has a lot on his plate at this time. He grew up as a policeman's son, "well protected," as he later told Der Spiegel. But the solid parental home cannot prevent his criminal career. Miehling was in prison for the first time at the age of 18 for aggravated robbery. He later gets a ten-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for killing a meat wholesaler with an accomplice as a debt collector.
When he is released, he tries his hand as a pimp. But he found this work to be "inhuman", as he later says. So now drugs. At the end of the 1980s, the Hamburg neighborhood had a gigantic hunger for cocaine. The golden years of prostitution came to an abrupt end with the advent of AIDS. St. Pauli is developing more and more into a party district. And that needed a "booster", as Miehling says, "and I had it."
Miehling thinks bigger than other small dealers - and he's more ripped off. Back then, hardly anyone took the risk of flying to South America to smuggle the drug into the country. "Blacky" develops his own tactic to avoid customs. It almost always flies in a group. He himself has no drugs in his luggage. On the flight from Colombia to Germany, he deliberately looks deep into his glass. He misbehaves at baggage claim. Customs officials and the then Federal Border Police noticed him. While they are all busy with this "highly suspect" drunk man, searching him from cover to cover, his colleagues unnoticed pull kilos of cocaine in their suitcases past the officers. "We had a phase - no matter what we touched, it worked," Miehling later reported to NDR.
Miehling is expanding. More and more "employees" come into his "company". It was "very busy" and his people were constantly sitting on planes from South America to Germany with new loads of cocaine. The drug dealer relies on a sales strategy that was very trendy at the time. "I was the Aldi of the cocaine trade," Miehling explained to the "Spiegel". He stretches his wares at a 1:1 ratio - very good quality on the street - and he offers his cocaine at ridiculous prices to drive competitors out of the market. "Sometimes I got the stuff for 35,000 marks per kilo and sold it for 28,000. The others didn't stand a chance. Then I raised the price again."
Miehling follows the discounter strategy: less profit margin, but more sales. And that pays off, in the truest sense of the word. "Blacky" lives a life of luxury. At some point he stopped counting his money and just weighed it, just like drug lord Pablo Escobar.
And just like Escobar, Miehling likes to spend his money. One of the best-known legends surrounding the "Snow King" is that of buying a car, when Miehling went to a Mercedes car dealership in jeans and a sweater and with an Aldi bag full of cash. He chose a Mercedes SL, list price 300,000 German marks. The salesman didn't take him seriously until Miehling dumped the bag on the counter with the succinct comment: "Count what you're getting."
His escape has apparently been planned for a long time. Miehling has already obtained Colombian papers in advance: ID card, passport, gun license - "Blacky" is prepared. Even if the South American country is significantly cheaper than the Federal Republic - Miehling needs money. The expenses for his house and the employees amount to almost 15,000 marks per month.
After some time, he plans to return to Germany – and the police, who are still tapping his phone, know that too. In 1994 he was arrested at an airport in Venezuela. The years of flight have come to an end.
After his extradition to Germany, he will be tried. Miehling is sentenced to twelve and a half years in prison, which he is serving in Hamburg's Fuhlsbüttel prison, known as "Santa Fu". In 2003 he was released prematurely. A report states that a return to the drug business is not to be expected.
But Miehling doesn't think about quitting. Only a few days after his release from prison, he flies back to Colombia. He taps into his old contacts. The "Snow King" wants to go back into business.
But he has to realize that his time is up. Again he tries to smuggle cocaine from South America to Germany via the port of Antwerp. And again the police taps his phone. In October 2005, authorities intercepted a shipment of cocaine on a container ship. Just a few weeks later, a team from the SEK rammed Miehling's apartment door and arrested him. This time he is sentenced to seven years and nine months in prison, in addition to serving the remainder of his previous sentence. It is the final chapter of an unprecedented dealer career.
Miehling spent almost half his life behind bars. Nevertheless, he said to the end: "I have no regrets." The years in prison were the price of a lot of fun for him. "I've experienced everything that was awesome. And if they catch you, you pay. I accepted that," he explained to "Spiegel". If you go out to sell drugs, you know what you're doing, says Miehling. Then you can't say afterwards that you regret it.
After his last prison sentence, Miehling tried his hand at various industries. He founded a fashion label and in a documentary by NDR he explained that he wanted to work in an anti-drug association in Marburg. As reported by "Bild", Ronald Miehling died last Tuesday as a result of lung cancer. He lived in Bremen with his third wife and daughter until his death.
Sources: NDR documentation, Der Spiegel, Hamburger Morgenpost, image