The article in The Guardian a few years back appropriately labeled the article “espionage.”
Francisco Paesa bamboozled terrorists, laundered money, entrapped crooked police chiefs, became mixed up in a dirty war fought on French soil, fooled Interpol and placed a death notice in a Spanish newspaper asking monks to pray for his soul.
Now the freelance Spanish superspy has resurfaced at the age of 75, cheekily calling on diplomats from his home country to rescue him from a tight situation involving a private jet, authorities in Sierra Leone, and a mysterious cargo of gold masks.
He wriggled out of that, somehow, but where is he now?
A sort of international James Bond with a bit less allure for the ladies, and a whole lot more connection to money, and the double and triple-faced dealings that could keep him close to it.
The list of the things this guy Didn’t Do in his Dareing-Do career would be short, the list of his true adventures would make for a long TV series in international intrigue.
The 2016 Spanish-made film about him, released as “Smoke and Mirrors” for an English-speaking audience, is more than worth a look. Yet it mostly dramatizes the Roldán scandal of the 80’s in Spain, with Paesa as just another player. Appropriately, he cons tens of millions of dollars out of the guy who ripped off the Spanish treasury for those sums. The kind of con-man who cons the other crooks, again… and again.
We can’t begin to cover all of Paesa’s exploits, real or alleged, here–they range from arming insurgent governments to large and long con operations to myriad disguises and slight of hand maneuvers. Francisco even faked his death, successfully, until he came out of hiding to sell some sort of cock-and-bull story in a TV interview.
Some guys slow down after a half century of cons and intrigue, but somehow we doubt that’s in his DNA.
So the question, what is he up to now, this super-hustler and super-spy now in his 80’s?