Thor Holm Hansen, disheveled and cantankerous inside his orange prison tunic, really wants you to know there hadn't been much cocaine.
Grenades and women, yes. A briefcase stuffed with $54,000: definitely that. But under no circumstances had there been more than two ounces of cocaine.
On January 14 in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, he hunched his six-foot, four-inch wiry frame over the defendant's table and frowned so hard it looked painful. His thin lips and handlebar mustache pressed against the microphone. The ponytailed 68-year-old yelled, pounded the table, and yelled some more. It was 9:15 a.m. The judge rolled his eyes. And the blond stenographer couldn't keep pace with Thor's raving.
"Oh, sorry," Thor said, relinquishing his mouth's hold on the microphone. "I guess I've just spent too many years in the recording business."
Thor — a Norwegian country singer, a former Outlaws motorcycle chieftain, and an "ambassador at large" to a rebel Haitian government — chuckled.
Then he was at it again, machine-gunning fresh manifestos. No one could be trusted, he said. Liars and conspirators stalked the proceedings. And this pretrial court hearing — which concerned a lingering bond-jumping charge against him from 1981 — was about much more. "We are at the tail end of a 30-year CIA conspiracy plot," Thor said.
Thor paused. Thor let this information sink in.
Although a certain absurdity seems indigenous to the Florida judicial system, few cases, in terms of sheer strangeness and sweep, can trump Thor Hansen's.
According to Thor, seven months before this proceeding, while at his computer in his underwear at his mountain chateau in Norway, he received a message from his American daughter, Nancy Ann Hansen, 33, who was wracked with drug addiction. "Daddy," she wrote in the email, "you need to send me $500 immediately. This is a matter of life and death." Thinking she'd use the money on drugs, Thor refused. But on June 25, Nancy Ann disappeared, last seen in Oceanside, California, according to the police department's missing-person report.
So in October, Thor plopped a black cowboy hat on his head, nestled a pack of smokes in his pocket, and flew to the States to find his daughter.
But it wouldn't be that simple. Before Thor could freely travel the U.S. and rescue her, he'd first have to turn himself in to the federal authorities and defeat the bond-jumping charge, left over from a bizarre day in federal court 30 years ago. While at trial in 1981 after an indictment for intent to distribute cocaine, Thor had simply walked out in the middle of the trial around 11 a.m., sailed a boat to the Bahamas, and caught a plane to extradition-free Norway.
Now, Thor had to persuade a fresh jury that the original cocaine charge was bogus, thus invalidating the bond-jumping charge, and that — yes — the CIA had set him up. This task would plunge Thor, a dozen federal agents, appellate court judges, and the entire nation of Norway into a peculiar, whiskey-soaked tale starring a bellicose and narcissistic biker.
Everyone interviewed agreed Thor might be crazy. Everyone also agreed he might not be.
It was the early '80s. It was the CIA.
Early afternoon, February 18, 1981. Thor needed one of his "old ladies." So he grabbed Marie Wood and steered his red and white Ford Mustang across Fort Lauderdale to an Italian restaurant. Thor — long-haired, bearded, and wearing a black baseball cap — needed guns: 40 M16 assault rifles and 1,000 frag grenades. The Haitian insurgents were waiting on him.
Thor and Wood, a white girl with a brown Afro, slid into a booth at Anthony's Runway 84. Across the table were two men. Thor nodded at the girl and asked about the weapons. According to an arrest report, one of the men cracked "a briefcase containing $53,800 and a dismantled fragmentation hand grenade." Thor liked this. He slid them two ounces of cocaine in envelopes. "There are eight more ounces coming," Thor assured them. "Wait awhile."
An hour passed. Then the two men — agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration — motioned with their hands. Thor and Wood were arrested. Wood was quickly released. Thor was not.
Hints of this day pockmark his early life, Thor explains over the phone to New Times this January in one of a dozen phone calls from the Broward County Main Jail. Even as a child, violence and mayhem plagued his life. After Thor's father moved the family from Oslo to Milwaukee in 1950 when Thor was 6, the beatings were relentless. Angular and muscular, Henry Holm Hansen preferred a belt as his weapon. "He used to beat the shit out of us," Thor said. "Otherwise all he would do in his spare time was drink and gamble."
Later put in a home for troubled youths, Thor was one day savaged by a schoolyard bully. So Thor, already tall and gangly, hid behind a corner and hit the bully in the head with a two-by-four. Thor told him: "Next time, there's going to be a nail in the plank." The bully never troubled him again, and from then on, revenge was vital to the Thor Hansen ethos.