How to Get Away with Murder in America

The shocking true story of an alleged drug-world hit man who was recruited by the CIA and promoted into the agency’s top ranks—all while continuing his life of crime.

  1. Hit Man

    In 2008, Jon Roberts, a convicted cocaine trafficker, made a startling claim to me: that more than three decades earlier he had participated in a murder with a man named Ricky Prado, who later entered the Central Intelligence Agency and became a top American spy. The murder to which Roberts referred was one of Miami’s most infamous, that of Richard Schwartz, stepson of the legendary mobster Meyer Lansky. Schwartz was killed on the morning of October 12, 1977, behind a restaurant near Miami Beach. He was exiting his car when a person unknown approached him and fired twice with a shotgun, at such close range that cotton wadding from the shells impregnated Schwartz’s flesh. The murder has never been solved.

    Roberts claimed that Prado was the shooter, provided by a local Cuban drug kingpin named Alberto “Albert” San Pedro, for whom Prado worked as an enforcer and occasional hit man. Roberts confessed to planning the murder with two mafiosi, Gary Teriaca and Robert “Bobby” Erra. According to Roberts, the three of them waited near the scene of the shooting in his boat, in order to take Prado’s weapon and dispose of it in Biscayne Bay.

    The politics of Roberts’s story made sense. Months earlier, Schwartz had fatally shot Teriaca’s younger brother in a dispute at the Forge restaurant, in Miami Beach. As Roberts explained it, the three of them participated in the murder to avenge the death of Teriaca’s brother. Prado entered the picture because his boss, San Pedro, was eager to prove...

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