My best friend has murdered over 350 people.
It’s funny how we get to know people. A bond develops. An affection is exchanged and then we start to get to know one another. We begin to trust and histories are revealed. At every encounter, we learn a little bit more.
I am a photographer. I am best known for my iconic images of an unconventional nature. During my 18-year career, I have photographed over 30,000 individuals and shot 2 million frames. Waylon Jennings, Sonny Barger, Penn & Teller, Dave Navarro, Leon Russell, Marilyn Manson and thousands of other celebs have graced my lens. Some of these people impressed me, like Waylon; most however, did not. Some were famous, most were just infamous.
I was invited to a Sullen Art party in LONG BEACH. I am part of the “Sullen Art Collective” , a movement that grew out of the tattoo culture.. The guy that I invited, surprised me by bringing someone with him. This new attendee wasn’t dressed very well for a VIP event so I thought on first inspection, but he did have a charisma that drew you in. My guess was he was 50, but later I came to learn he was closer to 80. He looked amazing for his age and would later cometo be intimate with a few of my girlfriends who were around 24 and younger.His face was remarkable full of spunk and character but it was his balls that were the formidable parts as they were bigger than any I had encountered. Disrespect him and you’ll find out just what I mean and where that goes. That won’t end well, trust me
He said his name was Fuego.
There was no time during the party for me to speak to Fuego. I was off doing my networking thing, having just launched a new hardcover book, photographs of the tattoo lifestyle. .
After the event, my friend, Fuego and I went back to my house. We listened to Blues and just kinda sat in my bedroom and talked for hours. Funny because my bedroom is my sacred safe space and I don’t invite anyone in there. No drinks, no drugs, no sex, just he and I and the Blues.
As we relaxed, I was able to talk to this new manperson. We spoke for hours about all kinds of things, life, death, sex, murder, (yah a lotabout murder, actually) spirits, aliens, and what makes up the universe. His wisdom and worldliness makes him a great conversationalist.We bonded very quickly, forming an immediate trust. This is rare for me, as I generally hate everybody and don’t trust anyone.
I sensed immediately that we formed some kind of ‘special connection’ that was stronger than a physical plane rolling harder and faster to a spiritual plane. Theres 3 planes, the sexual plane, the physical plane and the spiritual plane. Everyone can visit the first two planes, which are easy, but not everyone can touch the third.
Fuego started telling me all kinds of things, about his life and his exploits.
This only furthered to launch my disbelief as his claims were so unbelievable I was sure this guy was a pathological liar. Surely, none of this incredulousness could be true.
Like the fact that he worked for Pablo Escobar running his operations for over 10 years and that Escobar was his brother-in-law. Or that he sold product to all of the stars and celebs, and was the main Candyman in Hollywood or that he killed his first human at age 14.
I was convinced at the time that was all male macho bullshit trying to impress me and fuel-fodder from a pathological liar.
He said he was a “pest control” professional for the Mafia, annihilating over 350 people during a 30 year career of death and dismemberment. He said his nickname came to be “Fuego” which means ‘fire’ in Spanish due to the fact he would light people on fire. For the next 3 hours he told me stories, where the next one seemed more incredulous than the last. All of this information left me suspect at best, because, artlovers, I live in Hollywood where everyone is full of shit just bullshitting about who they are and mostly about who they are not!
After some consideration, I decided to do some checking on my own. I called some East Coast guys who were connected Mob guys and asked them “What’s up with this guy I just met?” I know these guys, well let’s just say I know them and leave it at that.
I was radically perplexed. My little inner voice whispered to me that he wasn’t lying. All of this was so incredible but I still really couldn’t figure it out.
To my surprise my East Coast guys told me “No he’s the real deal, he works for us, all of what he tells you is true and one last thing, whatever you do don’t piss him off!” Well now I have to reconfigure and reprocess all of this information and to say I am overwhelmed is an understatement.
I start to look at this whole thing in a different light and I realize that there’s a story here that needs to be told.
Never in the history of true crime has an “independent contractor” come forth to tell the details, the why’s, the how’s the how-to’s of his profession so this would be a first. John Gilmore, true crime writer and author of “STORY OF THE BLACK DAHLIA” as well as 25 other books was my best friend and Gilmore wrote about some very dark stuff. He told me not to be afraid of the dark, to embrace it.
I told Fuego I’d write the book if he told his story. My stipulation was that he had to put it all on the table and that would be an emotional visceral roller coaster ride for him.
He agreed and we set forth telling his story. We basically just sat in his BMW and he told stories, he is a remarkable storyteller, and I made notes as well as audiotapes. We never smoked nor drank coffee we just worked to get ‘er done. It was when he spoke about his childhood that things got emotional. When you read the book you will see what I mean by this. The first chapter is entitled “Monster” and its about his Father who was the sickest most hideous motherfucker to ever head a family. The psychopathy of murder is that murder stems from rage, rage stems from abuse, and abuse comes from childhood so in his case it’s really easy for me to understand and almost forgive.
During the book writing, the problem was there was so much information that I was overwhelmed with the job of selecting what should go in the book. It would take me three months to narrow it down and that was three months of making detailed notes during the hours and hours we just sat in his car and talked.
The book was finished four months later.
Most people can’t get through the first twenty pages. It is not a kind and gracious journey. My friend Adam Rifkin, the film director, gave me a quote for the book cover “Warning, read it, but do so at a time when you are of strong mind. This book is unembellished and tells the story of a life filled with violence and remorse.”
But Fuego, bless his little black heart, as my father used to say, impressed me. With his 151 IQ and his articulate nature, knowledge of six languages, strong heart and a minacious spirit that you cannot abrogate, he is much more than a killer.
Someone who is so complex, with a life that is so chaotic, is not easy to describe in words. An epic character this big and this complicated is not easy to define. This book was a difficult undertaking, but it’s a startling read and a remarkable story.
It is not an ‘easy’ story and most people can’t get through the first chapter. That’s fine with me. I don’t want easy. I want deep, rat-gnawing, gut-wrenching and visceral. Diary of a Hitman is definitely that. I hope all of you will take the ride.
My best friend has murdered over 350 people, and I’m OK with it.
“A must-read for all special agents.” ….The FBI
“Mind-blowing and bone-chilling.” ….CIA / Special Foreign Ops
“This is a beast of a book about violence and redemption.”
……Rocco Morelli / former Cosa Nostra
“Warning, read it, but do so at a time when you are of strong mind. This book is unembellished and tells the story of a life filled with violence and
…..Adam Rifkin / Hollywood Director
“In the profession of professional killers Fuego is considered a leyenda (legend) as well as peligroso extreme.” (extremely dangerous)
…..El Madura / Sinaloa Cartel