Cocaine King Max Mermelstein's Long-Lost Daughter Found Out He Died Through New Times

Categories: Crime, News
Courtesy Rochelle Desiree Mermelstein Gomez
Last year, New Times published a feature detailing the strange last days of Max Mermelstein, the master cocaine smuggler who turned snitch in the mid-80s and died under government protection in 2008.

Among the readers: Rochelle Desiree Mermelstein Gomez, Max's 36-year-old daughter who he had abandoned in Puerto Rico in 1976, when she was two. Her mother, Gladys Gomez, had been trying to track down Max since then.

Both of them found out that Max had died only by reading the New Times story.

Mermelstein was the American point man for the Medellin Cartel, smuggling an estimated 56 tons of cocaine-- worth $12.5 billion-- into the United States in the late 70s and early 80s. Upon his arrest in 1985, Mermelstein became the most valuable informant in law enforcement history, using his inside knowledge of the drug business to help indict or trap some of the globe's biggest druglords. As we revealed, he died broke in Kentucky, living under an assumed identity with a $3 million bounty presumably still on his head.

A South Floridia screenwriter, Brett Tabor, bought Mermelstein's life rights and managed to spend time with the ex-smuggler in the months before his death. He's currently in Los Angeles trying to make a major motion picture based on Mermelstein's life.

The Max Mermelstein that Gladys Gomez married in New York in 1972, before moving to Puerto Rico together, had not yet entered the drug trade. He was a hotel engineer working at the San Juan Sheraton. In 1976, he left his wife and their two-year-old daughter Rochelle, Gladys says, to headed to Miami with a new woman. He married her-- because her identity is protected, let's call her Lara-- and they would have two daughters together.

Gomez spent the next two decades trying to track down Max for child support, she says, adding that Puerto Rican authorities even attempted to enforce the payments. It wasn't until 1985, when Mermelstein had been caught and turned witness, that his ex-wife and child learned, from a newspaper article, that he had become a drug smuggler.

Five years later, Rochelle received what might be the most bizarre letter a 16-year-old daughter ever received from her father. (We've embedded it on the next page.) "This in no means says that I did not or do not love you," he wrote, before explaining his current situation: "The government made a deal with me for me to cooperate and testify against a number of druglords."

Gladys Gomez
Mermelstein mentioned arranging a visit with his estranged daughter through the U.S. Marshals service, but Rochelle says he never contacted her again. "I don't know what kind of love it was that he professed," seethes her mother Gladys on the phone from Puerto Rico. "He behaved so cowardly towards his daughter."

Mermelstein wrote about Gladys only briefly in his memoir, The Man Who Made it Snow, and didn't mention having a child with her: "My Puerto Rican wife at the time, Gladys, was a different person once I took her back to her own country. Like all Latin women, she seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of relatives. Finally she left me to go across the island and live with her feuding parents, who needed her as a buffer."

Gladys and Rochelle provide some pretty incredible materials backing up their story, including the smoking gun: Rochelle's birth certificate listing Mermelstein as the father Some of the documents, such as Mermelstein's own birth certificate and social security card, will be manna for scholars of the drug trade. We've embedded it all in the next page.

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Rochelle Desiree
Rochelle Desiree

Everyone talks about money and that's important! But more than money, One call once a week, a birthday card, or much better been there to carry on, to support me when I was sad, and laugh with me when I was happy, celebrate my succees in life, etc... Be a father! Every single day for those past 34 years I've been wishing and hoping and waiting! maybe this christmas or maybe for my birthday he's would come to see me, to hug me, and to be with me for the rest of his life! Now, all those dreams and wishes are vanished for ever cause he died and I'll never had a chance to tell him face to face how much I loved him even though He abandoned us.


This just goes to prove the kind of scumbag piece of shit Max always was. While he's making hundreds of millions in the drug trade, why didn't he send a penny to his ex and his daughter??? Imagine what even a small fraction of his ill gotten gains could have done for this poor woman and child?

David Cox
David Cox

God bless you Rochelle. I am in a similar situation as you and your dad were in right now between me and my daughter, Shelbie Michelle Oakley who is 7 and lives with her mother (Shannon Mellisa Oakley) and her grandmother (Michelle Preston Oakley) somewhere in Florida (presumably on the west coast in the Englewood/North Port area) I was arrested back in 2003 and did 3 years of Federal time. Although I never stopped loving my daughter, her mother decided that she "didn't need a man" to raise our child and disapeared, leaving me to wonder what happened to my heart, which is my baby girl. Hopefully my daughter will not find out her father died without having met him like you did. That is my biggest wish in this life.......

Rochelle Desiree
Rochelle Desiree

Hello David! so sorry to read that! maybe I can help you to find your daughter at least I can try! PLEASE contact me on FB

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