“The Rat” tells the story of the man who “ran one of California’s biggest drug empires… …complete with all the trappings — Ferraris, strippers, tricked-out jacuzzis, and garish fake waterfalls – then, the Feds ran him.”
Mark first met “The Rat” while he was working on one of his books:
‘While researching Six Degrees of Paris Hilton, from out of the blue I received an email from someone claiming that he knew more about one of the criminals I was writing about than anyone. Intrigued, I phoned him, and soon realized that it was HIS story I wanted to tell…
‘“The Rat” and I have remained friends through the years, and I trust him with my life. Once, when I had to confront a pair of Russian mobsters operating out of a pawn shop front, The Rat flew down from Seattle to simply stand behind me and look intimidating. Only a true friend would do something like that.’
Mark also tells Dangerous Minds that “The Rat” will be going public this Thursday, when he will reveal his true identity for the first time on camera.
For my money, Ebner is the best investigative journalist around. He digs up stories long before anyone gets a whiff that there is anything bad going on, and delivers top drawer copy every time. He has also written 3 killer books: Hollywood Interrupted, Six Degrees of Paris Hilton, and We Have Your Husband: One Woman’s Terrifying Story of a Kidnapping in Mexico, and is currently working on his next.
Here is an extract from Mark’s article on “The Rat”:
The first sign that something was wrong was when a car followed him onto his street – a one-way cul-de-sac at the top of Nichols Canyon in the Hollywood Hills where the mansions start at a million dollars. He was driving back from Bad Boys Bail Bonds, where he’d just dropped three grand to spring one of his drivers who had gotten popped in Santa Monica on a routine haul. Earlier in the day, he had pulled off the kind of transaction that some dealers go their whole lives without seeing – 300 pounds of primo weed for $1 million, which had netted him a cool $90,000 for two hours work. His senses heightened, he could feel the vibe going sour as he steered his discreet rental car past his own driveway. Another 60 feet, and suddenly there were searchlights washing every street corner – at least 30 undercover police cars – with a helicopter swooping down on top of him in case he decided to make a run for it down the open cliff face.
“I hadn’t done a deal in six months,” says Oz (most names in this story have been changed), a 48-year-old ex-marijuana trafficker and big-time baller who once dominated the I-5 corridor from British Columbia to Tijuana, was responsible for 70 percent of the marijuana smoked in Los Angeles and saw $4 million move through his operation every two weeks. “They take me inside – they’re stripping the house, and here’s my $90,000 all out on the table. I said, ‘Dude, just shoot me now. I don’t blame you guys, but I’m not going to rat on any of my people, so I’d prefer to be dead.’ The Fed says, ‘No, man, I can’t do that. But we need to talk.’”
Cruising through the Hills in a tricked-out Lincoln Navigator, on loan from a fellow drug runner who got out of the game when he found religion, Oz can’t help but point the sites of his former glory: The Russian tanning salon in Hollywood where you could order up Vicodin or steroids on demand; the Melrose Avenue tattoo shop that moves 50 to a hundred pounds of weed a week; the Mexican restaurant that serves up kilos of coke with its carne asada. But he is less expansive when describing his life since the 2004 bust that curtailed his hand-built empire – and his uneasy resurrection as an undercover informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency. In the world he lived in for over 20 years, the worst thing you could be was a rat – a turnabout of fate that obviously weighs heavy on him. In the past three years, Oz has survived three suicide attempts – not counting his choice of livelihood.
Still retaining the hard angles and displaced muscle mass from his early years as a bodybuilder and protracted steroid enthusiast, Oz today most resembles Arnold Schwarzenegger if you put him through a threshing machine and then tried to spot-weld the bigger pieces back together. He’s had his bicep torn off from trying to break a guy’s neck in a bar, all his teeth are capped from being broken off in fights and he’s literally got screws in his head to hold his skull in place. He earned the sometimes nickname “Shrek” from taking so many punches to the face that his eyebrows calcified into scar tissue, leaving a large protruding ridge in his forehead. And in the kind of colorful anecdote that no doubt made it easier for him to do his job, he once bit his best friend’s ear off in the back seat of a limo.
“I have a short man’s complex,” admits the 5’8, 220-pound brawler, still capable of flashes of intense anger and pervasive menace, as well as intense emotion over the secondary victims of his chosen lifestyle. “I realized at one point that most people were my friends because they were scared of me. I’ve never killed anybody, but I’ve hurt a lot of people – and every one of them deserved it.”
Now read on…
My DM colleague, Marc Campbell has passed on this episode of Media Mayhem, with Mark Ebner, which contains the first on-camera interview with ‘The Rat’.
Previously on Dangerous Minds