My Father the US Customs Agent, Part 2

Perico In Paradise - A Miami Retrospective

"Miami. What can I say? I'm from here. Born and raised, as many of you (my friends) know. I love Miami and everything about it. I've been to mansion parties in Cocoplum and on Palm Island, I've hung out in the hoods of Goulds and Florida City, had a few visits to TGK and the Dade County Courthouse Lockup, and everywhere in between. I love every inch of space surrounded by the borders that create Miami Dade County. There is truly no other place like it. I'm friends with hoods and scofflaws, I'm also friends with many upstanding fellow Miamians who are of course on the straight and narrow. If you love Miami, I love you. It's the wide variety of ‘color’ that splashed pastel all over the place and made this place what it is. Good and bad, everyone played their part.

“I've tried explaining this to the many friends I have made over the years that aren't from here. No one gets it. Most of them can't wait to leave, and many do. It's so hard to put into tangible form the history of Miami, how it became what it is, why things are done the way they are, why the people act the way they do.

Seized Cessna 1977 704 Titan. Fitted with auxiliary fuel tanks in the nose, wings and cargo area. Could stay airborne for 16 hours. Repurposed for US Customs use.

"My parents were federal agents in the late ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and into the early ‘00s. My dad started life here as a CPO (Customs Patrol Officer), graduated to Special Agent and eventually became Special Agent in Charge (SAIC) at US Customs. He was most definitely a key figure in many of the infamous stories that give Miami its reputation. He cut his teeth growing up poor in New York, went to Vietnam and ended up here, implementing the trade craft he had learned in the war on the streets of Miami. It was most definitely the Wild West out here. My own neighborhood growing up hosted more than one car bombing, a couple raids here and there. I definitely had a very unique and unfiltered lens to view the events that unfolded here on a daily basis.  Rest assured my dad wasn't a do-gooder on a crusade. He had a job to do, and it brought him pleasure to do it. Big money, big egos, big guns. He loved every minute of it. It was definitely cowboy vs. cowboy in those days. He just liked mixing it up and doing cool shit.”

My Dad and Ferrari, 1998

Read more about Ben Kramer and his friends in Véhicule.