Who Is Rodney Hyden? New Details About The Florida Man Featured In 'The Legend Of Cocaine Island' Documentary On Netflix

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Who Is Rodney Hyden? New Details About The Florida Man Featured In 'The Legend Of Cocaine Island' Documentary On Netflix
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He went in search of buried cocaine.

Netflix has done it again! The documentary The Legend of Cocaine Island came out on March 29th and tells the unbelievable but true story of Rodney Hyden, a small business owner from Florida. Back in 2012, Hyden found out about the legend that a huge stash of cocaine worth $2 million was allegedly hidden on an island of Puerto Rico called Culebera. Hyden had lost a lot of money during the global recession in 2007 and 2008 and felt he didn't really have anything to lose by trying to find it. It's a crazy story. Who is Rodney Hyden?

1. The legend

It was a Friday night in July 2004 when Rodney Hyden first heard about the hidden cocaine. A man named Julian told him at a happy hour with a bunch of other men from Archer, Florida about a bale of cocaine that he had hidden near a sanctuary for sea turtles after it washed up on a beach. Julian and his wife moved to Culebra, an island off Puerto Rico in 1986 to work for the sea turtle preservation project. The turtle population was on the decline. For hours daily, he walked Culebra's beaches looking for signs of turtles. One day, he found a plastic wrapped bale that was about the size of a large suitcase laying on the beach. It appeared to have washed ashore. That wasn't out of the realm of possibility. Drug dealers sometimes throw things overboard or out of a plane when they think the authorities are on their trail. Julian mulled over what to do with all of that cocaine. Eventually he decided to bury it. More than 15 years went by before that fateful night in July 2004 when Julian told Rodney Hyden about it. 

2. Hyden's quest

Hyden decided that he was going to go and find that cocaine. He had been the owner of a successful construction company. He was a husband and father. He had a 3,600 square foot house in a very prestigious neighborhood in Gainesville, a pool, a three-car garage with a BMW and Harley in it. He had a boat. He was living the high life and then the recession hit in 2007. Work dried up. He lost his house, his BMW, his boat. He was more than $1 million in debt. He packed up his wife and daughter and moved into a double wide trailer in Archer, Florida. That's where he met Julian and heard about the legend of $2 million worth of cocaine buried near a sea turtle sanctuary. In The Legend of Cocaine Island, Hyden says: "Julian was sitting on a gold mine; we’re talking about 32 kilograms of cocaine — X marks the spot, treasure, treasure, treasure."

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3. Hidden treasure

Over the years, Rodney became obsessed with the fantasy of retrieving that buried cocaine. But it was just that: a fanstasy. Until he lost it all during the recession. He started to think that he could rebuild his wealth if he could just find that cocaine. Keep in mind, Hyden was a businessman in his 50s. He didn't have drug running experience. He had a guy named Andy who Hyden employed occasionally for odd jobs. Hyden didn't trust Andy to do real contracting work due to his drug use. Hyden contacted Andy, who introduced him to a man named Dee. Dee told Rodney he could help him sell the cocaine if he could find it. He introduced Hyden to a pilot named Carlos who said he could fly the cocaine into the U.S. Rodney and Andy flew to Culebra. They couldn't find the cocaine. A second trip was also unsuccessful. Rodney was ready to give up, especially when drug sniffing-dogs and customs agents were waiting for their plane when it landed in San Juan.

4. He gets in further

Hyden was ready to be done with his search for the buried cocaine. Carlos was not. In fact, he insisted that Hyden give him the map to the alleged location of the cocaine. He would transport it back into the U.S. and work with Dee to sell it and give Rodney his cut. As it turns out though, Dee was working with the police in the hopes that his cooperation would lead to a lighter sentence on another crime he had been convicted of. Carlos was an undercover Homeland Security Agent. Hyden was arrested and facing a minimum prison sentence of 10 years. He was a first-time offender and the judge looked kindly upon him. Hyden was sentenced to 60 days in prison, 5 years probation and five years of community service for Habitat for Humanity for 20 hours a week. 

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5. "The stupidest thing I've ever done"

In a 2018 interview with The Daily Mail, Hyden said: "Look, it’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life; I’m not proud of it. How I didn’t see it, how I didn’t realize what was going on…but out of all the bad and the ignorance and the stupidity on my part, there has been some good from this story. I’ve helped a lot of families. It’s such a good feeling to build their home for them and then hand them the keys at the end; you both hug each other and start crying. It’s emotional. I love it; it’s made a better person out of me."

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. She is deeply devoted to her chocolate Labrador and an avid long distance runner. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.

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