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Last ‘Cocaine Cowboy’ Arrested in Orlando

Gustavo Falcon captured after evading authorities for 26 years

Last 'Cocaine Cowboy' Arrested in Miami

Gustavo Falcon, the last of the so-called "Cocaine Cowboys," was arrested in Orlando after evading authorities for 26 years.

Orange County Corrections/AP, Hans Deryk/AP

Gustavo Falcon, the last of the so-called “Cocaine Cowboys” and brother of notorious drug trafficker Augusto “Willie” Falcon, was arrested Wednesday after avoiding police for 26 years, CNN reports. Authorities captured Falcon in Orlando after discovering he’d been using a fake Florida driver’s license under an alias since 1997.

Falcon went on the lam in 1991 after he, his brother Willie and Willie’s partner Salvador Magluta were indicted and charged with smuggling approximately 75 tons of cocaine into the U.S. since 1978. Their work during those 13 years helped turn Miami into a hotbed of drug use, trafficking and violence as cartels and gangs warred with each other and U.S. authorities. After years in judicial limbo, Magluta received a 205-year sentence in 2002 (later reduced to 195 years) and Willie Falcon struck a plea deal in 2003 and received 20 years, though he’s scheduled to be released in June. As for the other Falcon, authorities believed he’d managed to flee to either South America or Cuba.

In fact, he was a few hours north in Orlando. As the Miami Herald reports, the smuggler had managed to obtain fake licenses for himself, his wife and their children. Falcon and his wife went by the names Luis and Maria Reiss and rented a home in the suburb of Kissimmee.

U.S. marshals finally caught a break in the case when Falcon was involved in a car accident near Orlando and used a fake license with a Miami address. Authorities tracked Falcon to his rental home in Kissimmee and put the place under surveillance until they were able to confirm his identity. They arrested Falcon and his wife as they embarked on a bike ride.

“We figured this all out a month ago,” said U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Barry Golden. “We pulled his driver’s license and saw it was the same Gustavo Falcon.” Golden added: “He was the last of the Cocaine Cowboys.”

The Cocaine Cowboys and the Miami drug wars were famously chronicled in Billy Corben’s 2006 documentary Cocaine Cowboys. A sequel, Cocaine Cowboys 2: Hustlin’ With the Godmother, was released in 2008, and per the Miami New Times, Corben is working on a third installment, Cocaine Cowboys: Los Muchachos, a documentary miniseries about Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta. The series is expected to arrive later this year or early 2018.

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