If you've been waiting for another gripping Netflix documentary about an unbelievable but true story, The Legend of Cocaine Island might be exactly what you've been craving. The doc, out Mar. 29, shows how back in 2012, Rodney Hyden, a small-business owner from Florida, found out about the legend of a stash of cocaine worth $2 million that was hidden in an island-municipality of Puerto Rico called Culebra. He was affected by the 2007-2008 economic crisis, and decided to head to the island to find it. But, as you'll see in the doc, things didn't work out in Hyden's favor. So where is Rodney Hyden in 2019?
Hyden found the cocaine with the help of a group of men, but one of them had ratted him out in advance in exchange for leniency for a crime he'd already committed, leading to Hyden's 2012 arrest, per GQ. What's more shocking is that the cocaine Hyden was found with was not even pure; it had been packed by law enforcement. And two of the "dealers" he had been working with were undercover Homeland Security agents. According to GQ, of what was in that duffel, "what actually tested positive for cocaine was merely 2.2 kilos — and that wasn’t even sellable." Still, he was charged with the intention of distributing the cocaine he expected to find, as reported by The Gainesville Sun.
Being a first-time offender worked in Hyden's favor. The judge used a "safety valve" in the law to sentence the defendant to only 60 days in prison and 20 years probation, as well as mandatory community service for 20 hours a week for Habitat for Humanity for five years, per Daily Mail.
In that 2018 Daily Mail interview, Hyden spoke about how it feels to look back at what he did, and the positive aspect of the experience. "‘Look, it’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life; I’m not proud of it," he said. "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."
He also opened up about his time in prison in his 2015 interview with GQ. "One thing I learned in there is that once the government’s got you in the crosshairs, you’re asking for trouble," said Hyden. "Almost anything you do can be construed as a crime."
But now, years later, things seem to be looking up for Hyden. He's still the president of his construction company, BH Builders Inc., according to his LinkedIn. The site for the company hasn't been updated in years, so it's difficult to know if Hyden still has as big of a role as he did before the Culebra cocaine incident. It seems, per The Gainseville Sun and another LinkedIn page, that the company was previously called R. Hyden Construction Inc. According to Yelp, R. Hyden Construction Inc. is no longer operating. As the documentary shows, Hyden is still with his wife, Jamie, with whom he has one daughter, Emily. And their life — with family dinners and matching recliner chairs — appears excessively normal, these days.
The film explores how exactly Hyden got himself into this situation and why. After you watch it, his ill-advised attempt at recapturing the American dream may make a lot more sense to you.