DeLorean needed $17 million in a hurry to save his business.
In desperation he entered into a drug-smuggling scheme, and in so doing walked right into a FBI sting operation designed to nab a smuggler named William Hetrick.
Hetrick was suspected of flying cocaine in from Colombia and moving it through the offices of a company called Morgan Aviation at Mojave Airport, ninety miles out of Los Angeles. He was looking for a bank that would launder his ill-gotten gains. The FBI confidential informant hooked Hetrick up with one agent posing as a bank officer and another who posed as a drug distributor. DeLorean then approached the CI, and was filmed and recorded at meetings in Washington D.C.'s L'Enfant Plaza Hotel as well as L.A.'s Bel Air Sands and the Sheraton Plaza. Hetrick was arrested after exchanging the cocaine for money; DeLorean was was taken into custody the following day when he flew into L.A. from New York. Ironically, he just missed a call from a banker who wanted to offer a legitimate $200 million loan that would have saved DMC, which shut its doors for good owing creditors $180 million. DeLorean's dream had turned to dust -- and left a lot of investors burned.
Interviewed by Rolling Stone's Aaron Latham in 1983, DeLorean claimed that he was trying to get a loan using stock in a shell company as collateral, and that he tried to back out of the deal after discovering that drugs were involved. At that point, according to DeLorean, the lives of his kids were threatened. Furthermore, the money paid for the drugs brought in by Hetrick was provided by the government. DeLorean suggested that the government was out to destroy him because the Big Three automakers wanted to see his enterprise fail; at other times he surmised that either the British government or the Irish Republican Army had set him up.
In 1984, DeLorean was acquitted of all charges after a federal judge ruled that the FBI operation had been a clear case of entrapment. He became a born-again Christian and wrote his autobiography. But in April, 1985 Christina divorced him, and that September a federal grand jury indicted him for income tax evasion and mail and wire fraud on evidence that he had bilked DMC investors, siphoning the funds into his private bank account. Though never convicted, DeLorean was ordered to reimburse creditors to the tune of $9 million. In 1995 a jury ordered him to pay the law firm of Morganroth and Morganroth $10.3 million in unpaid legal fees
. In 1998 a New York jury ruled that DeLorean's accounting firm owed DMC investors $46 million
, plus $65 million in interest.
It is believed that a total of 8,563 DMC-12s were built. About 6,000 of them still exist today.