The Ritthenhouse Square Doyenne Who Moved A 1/2 Ton Of Weed Across The Mexican Border When She Was A 20 Year Old Hippie Chick Could Be Your Boss


JEFF DEENEY: This tale of drugs and death begins and ends far from Nogales—in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, probably the last place you’d expect to find a former drug smuggler. The small park is ringed by high-rise apartment and condo complexes filled with old-money blue hairs, baby-boomer corporate execs and U. Penn kids whose rich parents happily shell out for luxury off-campus housing. Nestled among the city’s elite is a woman with a secret past [not pictured, that’s Marianne Faithfull] that includes having moved almost a half-ton of weed from Mexico to the East Coast. Rita (her executive-level career position makes her skittish about using her real name) met Sally in Philly in 1971; they were two 20-year-old rebellious hippy chicks with age-appropriate ache for adventure. Sally, the wild child, happened to know a Mexican drug kingpin named—no shit—Poncho Loco who would sell them as much weed as they wanted. Sally needed a sidekick, someone to roll her joints and chop her lines while she drove. Rita, the waif, was fresh off a stint bumming around London where she rubbed elbows with rock stars at the notorious Speakeasy nightclub, flopped in “cracked houses” full of squatting dopers and now needed the next thrill. They rented a blue 1970 Chevy Impala and struck out for Tucson, where Sally had a house to use as a way station. “We were driving machines,” Rita recalls. “We made Tucson in three days.” They drove through a haze of pot smoke, blasting the Allman Brothers and tooting lines of coke. They rolled into Tucson packing two Browning .45 pistols and $30,000 in cash. They ate some Quaaludes to get to sleep and then struck out for the border the next morning, How did two 20-year-old hippy chicks pull off scoring huge bushels of weed from Mexican drug traffickers? The deal went down like this. MORE

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