Drug kingpin Gustavo Falcon was arrested by U.S. marshals near Orlando on Wednesday. Falcon has been wanted by federal authorities for over two decades. He was thought to have left the U.S. for Mexico or Colombia, but was reportedly living with his family a few hundred miles from Miami.
He was booked into Orange County Jail and reportedly agreed to be transferred from Orlando to Miami during a federal court hearing on Thursday. The press did not list an attorney for Falcon.
Falcon, his older brother Augusto “Willie” Falcon, their business partner Salvador “Sal” Magluta, and about a dozen other defendants were charged in 1991 for conspiring to import and distribute 75 tons of cocaine worth $2 billion in the U.S. between 1978 and 1991.
According to news sources, U.S. marshals tracked Falcon to a rental property in Kissimmee, near Orlando, and watched him for days before making the arrest. They tailed him and his wife when they went on a long bicycle ride and eventually arrested him on April 12. Falcon reportedly told the marshals that he had been living in Florida for almost 20 years.
The U.S. marshals got a lead that helped them discover Falcon’s potential whereabouts in 2013. He and his wife were in a car accident in Orlando and they provided investigators with fake IDs that listed a Hialeah home address.
Falcon had allegedly bought fraudulent driver’s licenses for himself, his wife, and their two adult children, the marshals said. They changed their names to Luis Andre Reiss and Maria Reiss. Falcon had also obtained fake Social Security cards for his family. The marshals confirmed that he was using a new identity and that helped them find him in Kissimmee last month.
Falcon was last seen in Florida before his indictment in 1991. Together with his older brother, he is recognized as one of the infamous Cocaine Cowboys who turned Florida into a cocaine trafficking hub in the 80s.
Sal Magluta and Willie Falcon (pictured left) stood trial in the 1991 and allegedly beat the criminal justice system by bribing three jurors, including the foreman, to win acquittals for all drug-trafficking charges in 1996.
After the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office found out that the pair had bought off jury members, prosecutors launched another investigation and targeted more people in their enterprise, including lawyers and family members. Willie and Magluta were retried on money-laundering and drug-related charges that would eventually send them of both to prison for decades.
Magluta, who is credited as the mastermind of the drug enterprise, was convicted on money laundering and drug-related charges in 2002. He was sentenced to 205 years in prison, which was later reduced to 195 years. Willie Falcon reportedly struck a plea deal with prosecutors in 2003 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He is scheduled to be released this summer.
Gustavo Falcon was the last of the Cocaine Cowboys and his arrest marks the close of the final chapter of the Miami Vice era. It is not clear whether his wife will be facing charges for assuming a fake identity.