Two of Miami’s most infamous “Cocaine Cowboys” used a big chunk of their drug proceeds to fund a CIA-backed effort to assassinate Fidel Castro in the 1990s, according to a report.
Willie Falcon, one of those notorious drug runners, is facing deportation back to Cuba after serving 20 years in prison on trafficking and laundering charges.
The 61-year-old Cuban native, who’s spent most of his life stateside, would be one of the few convicted felons shipped back to the communist-run island.
An angry Cuban government “would love to get their hands on him,” Frank Quintero, an attorney who represented members of anti-Castro groups, told the Miami Herald.
In the 1980s Falcon was one of the most famous “Cocaine Cowboys” — known for their high-octane way of life — along with his brother, Gustavo (Tabby), and high school pal Salvador (Sal) Magluta.
When the three were indicted in 1991 for bringing $2 billion of cocaine into the U.S. over 13 years, Tabby got away but the other two stood trial.
The younger Falcon was arrested in Florida this spring after more than 25 years on the run.
During their first trial, which ended in an acquittal in 1996, Falcon and Magluta started financing Cuban exiles and militants plotting to kill Castro, sources told the Miami Herald.
Fellow Miami drug kingpin Antonio Garcia Perez reached out to them about helping fund PUND, an exile group hoping to kill the Cuban dictator. Luis Posada Carriles, a CIA agent focused on bringing Castro down, was a PUND member, according to the newspaper.
The group had set up training camps in Florida’s Everglades to launch a guerilla attack on the dictator.
By May 1993, some 2,000 anti-Castro militants were active in South Florida, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Federal agents recovered about 40 weapons from one PUND outpost in one raid that year.
Perez couldn’t help the organization as much after his 1994 arrest in Texas. His bankrolling of the CIA-tied effort is believed to have gotten him a significantly reduced sentence, sources told the Miami Herald.
Running out of money to help the Castro effort, Perez went to Falcon and Magluta to help the effort, anonymous sources told the paper.
“Willie Falcon was a true anti-Castro advocate — viscerally,” his former defense lawyer, Rick Diaz, told the Miami Herald.
The pair were eventually acquitted, but federal authorities soon discovered they bought off three witnesses.
Magluta was re-tried in 2001, eventually convicted and hit with a 195-year prison sentence.
His cousin, Alfred Alonso, testified that Magluta and Falcon discussed helping the anti-Castro cause with two men during a prison visit in the mid-’90s, the Miami Herald reported. One of the men is believed to have been a high-ranked PUND operative.
Alonso also testified he brought a package of cash to an “anti-Castro affiliate.” The money, he added, was to hire an assassin to “knock him (Castro) down.”
Sending prisoners back to Cuba are rare, the Miami Herald noted, especially since the U.S. didn’t have relations with the nation until early 2015.
“Why the U.S. government would do this knowing that their hands are not clean is beyond any kind of reason,” Quintero, the anti-Castro lawyer, told the Miami Herald. “Under the present Cuban government, any deportation of political activists or anti-Castro activists, knowing that they will be imprisoned and executed, amounts to the gravest of human rights violations.”