INTERVIEW: Regrets of a convicted drug smuggler
Big wave surfing, smuggling large amounts of drugs overseas and travelling the world with notorious surfing group The Bra Boys.
It sounds like scenes from a Hollywood action movie, but these are merely chapters in the life of convicted criminal Wayne Cleveland.
Matt Collins: What was life like for a young Wayne Cleveland in school?
Wayne Cleveland: I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. I really did struggle in that aspect.
When you struggle like that I got in a lot of trouble because I was always up to no good. I didn’t really grasp a lot of what they were saying to me.
MC: You went on to become quite a talented surfer. I’m assuming you spent more time on the beaches of Maroubra than doing your schoolwork?
WC: Yeah, our school was one block from the beach, so you could sit in the classroom and see guys getting barrels. We had a breeding ground for surfers.
Honestly, I rarely went to school and when we did we would turn up late. We would try and make up all these excuses. Little did we know we hadn’t washed off, so we had sand in our hair and in our clothes. We couldn’t pull the wool over their eyes, mate.
During lunch we would go down for a surf and we’d have to put rash shirts over our heads and run past because the teachers would be down there having lunch.
MC: As a good surfer in Maroubra, and not having a lot of time for school, you must have had some involvement with the notorious Bra Boys. Would that be fair to say?
WC: I’ll tell you straight up, I know every single one of them. There is a lot of good soldiers there. But I never got the tattoo. I travelled the world with some of them.
MC: You refer to them as soldiers, explain that to me. What exactly were you guys fighting?
WC: It’s a just a term you use, but if you are in trouble, they’re there. They have got your back.
MC: When did drugs become a part of your life?
WC: It was back in the day. I just had a zest for living life on the edge. I always did little naughty things. But I always remember when I was young, I heard my parents arguing over money for bread and milk. There was just no money. I remember thinking, ‘I will never live my life like this’. So when someone suggested I could take this package from here to there and get paid, I jumped at it.
MC: How old where you then, Wayne?
WC: I was about 19 or 20.
MC: It very quickly escalated and you were smuggling hundreds of thousands of dollars of drugs overseas.
WC: Yeah, I did lots of runs.
MC: At times you would have several kilograms of drugs taped to your body. Just how serious did it get?
WC: You are picking up kilos from the States and bringing them to Australia and selling them for $200,000.
MC: You eventually got caught and you’ve just recently finished serving 10 years behind bars. What are the biggest regrets you have from that time?
WC: I tell you right now, I have lost my kids at the moment. I cannot see them at all. When things go south, you very quickly work out who your real friends are.