DuJour Navigation

High Society

In Smoke, Meili Cady recalls a life of designer clothes, private planes and nearly 7,000 pounds of marijuana smuggled across the country

When Meili Cady moved to Los Angeles, her plan was to become a movie star, but the closest she got to being in pictures might have been her mug shot. 

After struggling to find work as an actress, Cady took a job as the personal assistant to Lisette Lee—a mercurial bombshell who purported to be an heiress to the Samsung fortune—and soon found herself accompanying her boss, along with a burly bodyguard or two, on champagne-soaked trips in private jets. What Cady didn’t know, at least not until it was too late, was that Lee’s jaunts from L.A. to the Midwest weren’t for legitimate business, but instead were part of an elaborate plan to move tons of marijuana across the country for an international drug ring. 

It all came crashing down in 2010, when Cady and her cohorts were busted at an Ohio airport with 500 pounds of pot. Cady explains to DuJour how it went down. 

You transported drugs packed in designer luggage in Bentleys and on private jets. Was this beau monde masquerade part of the plan? 

The people who organized this decided on a small entourage that looked like they belonged on a private plane. The idea of looking like we fit in wasn’t just part of the plan, it was the plan.

If you had been less ostentatious, do you think you could have gotten away with it?

There are people who use private planes all the time; it’s not that outlandish. And it wasn’t all first class all the way. We would be in three star hotels when we got to Ohio. We’d get into velour pantsuits and take our makeup off and chill. 

You write that you weren’t aware of what you were involved in until it was too late. Did writing about the experience unearth any clues you’d previously missed?

Writing about my experiences was very cathartic. I was forced to write about things I may not have told anybody about or I hadn’t thought about myself. I drew connections to things I had never previously seen. 

Was there a point, even if you weren’t sure of what was going on, that you knew you were in a not-so-great situation?

Being around criminals was very strange for me. It felt shady in ways that other things didn’t. It felt dangerous and I felt that I was unsafe. Being in court was also very strange. I was an honor student. I was always the kid who stayed out of trouble. 

Has being conned by your best friend made you less trusting?

My bullshit meter is very, very sharp these days. When I meet new people, I always wonder what their motivations are. 

How do you react to people smoking pot now?

I’ve been drug tested over 200 times, so I used to be really sensitive to that. When I was on house arrest, someone brought pot to my apartment and I flipped. I can’t have that around. 

In the book, you admit you were misled but you don’t blame anyone else for the consequences.

I’m responsible for my decisions—I made them and they affected my relationships and every other thing in my life. Before I knew it, I was lying to every person I loved, and I ended up hurting all of them.