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Man Loses Narcotics Empire, But Gains Much More

SHIFTING SHADOWS 

At 12 years old, Herman Mendoza’s criminal education on the streets of New York began far too soon. Gangbanging. Theft. Drinking. Using drugs. Selling drugs. He was desperate. His family needed the money. He worked with his brothers to create a business moving cocaine and other items up and down the East Coast for some dangerous people. Herman had apartments for his mistresses and a beautiful home for his nuclear family. He had it all.

But his life would soon spiral out of control. His marriage was crumbling and the cell he’d built for himself with his addictions, his “business,” and his mistresses was slamming shut. When Herman and his brothers were busted in a large-scale crackdown, his kingdom crumbled.

Ready to kill himself rather than live behind bars at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center, Herman came face-to-face with the all-consuming love of God.  He would never be the same.

THE DRUG LIFE
Herman was raised in Queens, the youngest of five brothers, sons of immigrants looking for a better life. His mom was brought up Catholic and his dad was protestant but had left Christianity.  Herman wasn’t religious even though he had some kind of idea of who Jesus was. He was lured to the drug lifestyle because it was attractive. He got involved with a gang, arrested for grand larceny, and did 6 months. His parents shipped him to the Dominican Republic to a private school to live with grandparents.  He rebelled and was sent back at age 15.

He met his wife when he was a teenager and right out of high school he got married and formed a family. He had gotten out of the gang. But some of his brothers were operating in the narcotics, distributing cocaine. Herman lost his 9-5 job. His brother asked him to count some money for their “business” – and it was $1.3 million. Herman was hooked. He wanted that scene and money.

Herman got arrested transporting 25 kilos of cocaine, along with 6 additional kilos in a Mercedes Benz in a stash house. The next day the news said, “Brothers Arrested Over $3.8 million of Cocaine and Facing Life.” His world was spinning, at 21 facing life in prison. He had one child at this point and wanted to end his life.

The lawyer got him 3-9 years of incarceration. He signed up for a program called SHOCK, a rehabilitation program where the house inmates lived in a military-style camp to “scare them straight.” Once he entered the SHOCK

Facility, he was drawn to the chapel service to “negotiate with God” – “I promise I will not drink alcohol for six months.” He passed the exam and was released early.  He landed a job and after six months of sobriety he went out to celebrate (drink).  He ran into an old friend at the bar who offered him a job selling cocaine again. He accepted.

Proverbs talks about the dog returning to his vomit and a fool to his folly. That’s what Herman did. He went right back into it and started distributing hundreds of kilos of cocaine.  One of his brothers was involved with the sales and they started to work together. One of his old clients who owned a trucking company was working for the DEA. They got arrested by the DEA and he faced a federal indictment, a second offense.

TRUE CHANGE
Herman got bailed out and was trying to flee because he knew he was facing life in prison.  At this point  he had three kids.   He decided to jump bail. He’s 23 years old, it’s 1998.  Herman consumed alcohol to numb the pain to try to forget the situation and decided to go home to visit his kids and wife before running.  The very next day his house was surrounded by police, state marshals, and DEA agents.

On the way to jail he told them he wanted them to open the door so he could end his life.

Meanwhile, his brother gave his life to the Lord and prayed that God would send Herman to his facility so he could witness to him. Herman didn’t know about all this.   They extradited Herman from PA to NYC to Metropolitan detention center - MCC. The same unit and same area as his brother. This was a miracle because in federal indictments they don’t usually let siblings be together. His brother was elated to see him.  He said, “Praise the Lord, Praise God!” and Herman thought he was crazy. He didn’t understand the countenance and demeanor, it was totally different.

Herman heard that his case was getting worse by the minute, facing18-25 years. And his wife had left him.

He started praying, “I have been searching for things. I have been unfaithful to my wife. I have so much. But I’m so empty. I’m so broken. Fill this void.”  At the end of the chapel sermon the preacher was talking about the psalm where our sins are laid before us and God forgives us if we confess and believe.  Herman went to the altar and started to cry and said, “It’s me.” He got on his knees and was baptized by the Holy Spirit. He immediately felt like he had to make amends. Even to the people he had never met.

He started calling people and apologizing.  His parents said that his wife didn’t want to talk to him so he couldn’t reach her. He felt like it was time to start studying God’s word, and applied to Berean University (Assemblies of God) and took two years of courses with his brother.  They became pastors for over 70 inmates.

He prayed and fasted about his wife and his case. After three days with no water or food, Herman got a visitor – his wife! Herman confessed his sins to her, and she started to cry and confess to him. She asked to know Jesus. “You are more free in prison than I am in society.” She became a Christian. She had come to divorce him, but she went and got baptized with her sister-in-law (Emilio’s wife).

The judge sentenced Herman to just 48 months. He was about to get out from his federal sentence when state officers re-arrested him and sent him to Rikers Island. Herman just prayed, “Lord, if this is what you want, I’ll do it.” As he entered into the holding pen he looked at the inmates and was struck by the smell – feces, urine, alcohol – and broke down and said, “Lord, I am responsible for this.” He saw what drugs do to people.  He wanted to preach to them and they wanted to listen. Herman was sent to another housing unit and was eventually released. He had to start parole all over again.

He started an organization to help young people in the community in Queens. Got some notoriety by the community and elected officials which opened doors.  He and his brother started a company called One Voice and started a newspaper.  He got connected to the UN – working with humanitarian aid to different countries. He started working with Haiti in 2010 when the earthquake happened, and he went with some doctors.

His advertisement company burnt to the ground – he believes this was allowed by God to happen so Herman would work in what he’s doing today. A pastor asked him for help with his youth ministry in Flushing, Queens, and he said yes.  This opened the door for preaching and the ministry of Promise Ministries International which needed someone to run the children and youth program. And working with the 4/14 Window.

TAKEAWAY
Herman wants people to know if they are struggling with any addictions - drug, alcohol, pornography, opioids – there is HOPE in Jesus Christ. People thought Herman was going to die and God turned it around.  God can turn any story around.  God turned Herman’s life all around for His Glory.  Relationships, hope, healing. This is what God does – He takes the foolishness of the world to confound the wise.

 

Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info

Credits

Author, Shifting Shadows (Bethany House 2020)

Associate Pastor, Promise Ministries International

Director, Powerhouse Kids Ministry in NYC and 4/14 Window Best Practices program

Speaks nationally and internationally at universities, churches, conferences, prisons, and Fortune 500 companies

Humanitarian efforts in Port-au Prince, Haiti and the Dominican Republic; led United Nations International Day of Prayer

Married, 3 children.

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