Gustavo Falcon Miami Cocaine Cowboy arrested after living a quiet family life for 26 years in Florida where he once ruled as a ruthless drug lord.
Notorious Miami Cocaine Cowboy, Gustavo Falcon has been arrested after being on the run for 26 years while going on a bike ride with his wife.
The arrest follows Falcon being unmasked as one of the richest drug dealers in American history having smuggled $2 billion worth of cocaine aka 75 tons of cocaine, into the United States between 1978 and 1991.
The man’s arrest came Wednesday in Kissimmee, Orlando after US Marshals traveled to the central Florida city from Miami reported NBC Miami. Until his arrest, Falcon had been one of a pact of three men who had formerly controlled the drug trade, the other two long since incarcerated.
Along with his brother, Augusto ‘Willy’ Falcon and accomplice Salvador ‘Sal’ Malgluta, Gustavo formed the original Cocaine Cowboys in the 1980s – notorious playboy drug dealers who were known for racing powerboats, owning mansions and flying in private jets.
After dropping out of high school to deal drugs, the three men collectively smuggled at least $2billion of cocaine into the US and were one of the top five drug dealing networks in US history.
Magluta and Willy were eventually convicted, where they were sentenced to time in federal prison, while Gustavo remained the lone man on the run, living a quiet life with his family, until yesterday.
‘He is the last of the ‘Cocaine Cowboys,’ said Barry Golden, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Office in Miami told the Miami Herald.
Prior to yesterday’s arrest, Gustavo Falcon was last seen in South Florida in 1991, prior to being indicted. The now quiet family man managed to avoid capture while living in the very vicinity he had once ruled as a drug lord.
During his arrest on Wednesday, federal officials said Gustavo had in his possession a fake driver’s licenses dating back to 1997 linked to fake addresses in Miami.
He also had fake licenses for his wife, Amelia, and children, who are now aged in their 30s, authorities said.
Golden said the couple went by the name of Luis Reiss and Maria Reiss.
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Falcon’s eventual arrest came after Gustavo was involved in a car accident in 2013 where he used his fake identification with the Miami address leading to an investigation into the man.
Authorities say Gustavo and his family had been renting a home in the Kissimmee area, as it was under surveillance by the Marshals Office for some time before his arrest Wednesday.
From 1999, Gustavo and his family had been living in the Orlando area which surprised authorities as it had long been thought he fled the country to Cuba, Mexico or Colombia.
‘We figured this all out a month ago,’ Golden said. ‘We pulled their drivers’ licenses and saw it was the same Gustavo Falcon.’
At the time of his arrest, Gustavo didn’t resist, even confessing to his real identity.
The man is set to make his first court appearance on Thursday in federal court.
Dating back to the 1980s, the two brothers and Magluta were well-known figures in the local speedboat racing circles as they could often be spotted racing their powerful and fast boats in South Florida.
It was with their speedboats that the trio covertly smuggled billions of dollars of cocaine to Miami from Colombian drug cartels, as they all grew up in the city as part of the Cuban American community.
At the time, authorities said they laundered their profits through offshore bank accounts and dummy corporations established in the Bahamas, the Netherlands Antilles, and the Republic of Panama.
Gustavo, who was nicknamed ‘Taby’, was last seen in South Florida in 1991 shortly before he was indicted.
Willy and Magluta were acquitted in 1996 of the charges after it was discovered they bought off witnesses and at least one jury member.
In addition, the trial was also complicated when several witnesses were killed by a Colombian hitman.
Despite facing decades in prison if they were convicted on the hefty charges they faced, Willy and Magluta were still living an expensive lifestyle that included a Lear jet, their powerboat racing team, Vail ski vacations, South Florida waterfront mansions and Las Vegas junkets.
The men now on the run, still continued to smuggle and deal cocaine.
But in 2003, Willy struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors in Miami on money-laundering charges.
He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with the man scheduled to be released in June.
During his sentencing, U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz called him a ‘gentleman’ and wished him ‘all the best.’
‘Each day is the beginning of the rest of your life,’ Seitz told Willy.
The judge placed him on three years’ probation upon his release along with being ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.
However, since he was born in Cuba, he could be deported or held indefinitely by immigration officials once he completes sentence.
Magluta was retried and convicted in 2002 of conspiracy to obstruct justice.
But he was acquitted of orchestrating the murders of three cooperating government witnesses, including a lawyer gunned down in his office, and the attempted murder of a fourth.
Magluta was sentenced to 205 years in prison but that was reduced in 2006 to 195 years.
The Cocaine Cowboys and the Miami drug wars were famously chronicled in Billy Corben’s 2006 documentary Cocaine Cowboys, see preview below.