By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
Soon Martinez-Delgado and Contreras-Ordonez left the house, drove to a nearby Winn-Dixie, and beeped Chong from a pay phone. "They said they had counted the keys, and everything's okay, and hopefully they would be getting us some more money for the rest of the cocaine. We kept beeping this guy and beeping him, saying, `Look we need the rest of the money, we want to get rid of the remaining coke, when are you going to give us the rest of our money?'"
An hour later police watched as Martinez-Delgado and Contreras-Ordonez again emerged from the house, this time with a large suitcase. Homestead Police Chief Curtis Ivy decided the team could not risk letting their quarry slip away. The chief himself made the arrests, together with Customs's Joe Alaimo. A search of the suitcase revealed eight kilos. The rest remained in the house, where Bohorquez was subsequently arrested. In statements after their arrest, both Contreras-Ordonez and Martinez-Delgado said they had entered into the drug deal after being contacted by a mysterious man named "Coco," a man Chong and Swarnes would soon meet face to face.
Two days after the arrests, Chong called a familiar number in Colombia. He and Swarnes proceeded to utterly hornswoggle the cartel broker. "We said, `What the hell's going on? Your damn people came, took our car, and they never came back!'" Chong recalls. "`Where are they?' The guy's like, `You tell me.' He's like, `You set them up, you should know,' that's what he's insinuating. But we persisted. [Swarnes] was really convincing. This went on and on. Finally this guy goes, `Look, our friends are in the hospital,' meaning jail. We said, `Oh shit!' He wanted to know if we heard anything on the news. And then we started whining: `You got to do something! Those guys know our names, they have our numbers!' So he's trying to calm us down now. Me and Swarnes are passing the phone back and forth, and the informant is really putting on a show.
"He calls back that night and says, `Don't worry, man, they probably messed up on their side. You don't have anything to worry about.' We said, `Look, we've still got this dope left. We got a hundred kilos. We need the rest of our money. We need to go hide out.' The Colombian sort of drops his voice and says, `All right, I'll give you a number. This is my right-hand man, my main Miami connection. You can trust this guy.' And he gives us this beeper number."
The next day Chong and Swarnes met with a very suspicious Fernando "Coco" Estrada in the parking lot of Home Depot in Kendall. At first Estrada would not even talk with the two men. But thanks to Swarnes's gregarious wiles, Estrada was soon arranging a 25-kilogram deal with the pair. Estrada explained that he had a pickup truck with a secret compartment. He described a patch of industrial wasteland on Quail Roost Drive where Chong should leave the truck once it was loaded with coke. And then he took the men out for dinner.
"The plan was to put the dope in the truck and give it back to Coco," Chong says, "and he's going to give us the money - later on, not right away. We didn't like the idea of that much, but we wanted to find out who else he was involved with in Miami."
Chong and Swarnes dropped off the truck on Quail Roost Drive, then turned over the truck keys to Estrada at Captain Jimmy's Sub Station in South Dade. Estrada passed the truck keys to his associate, Carlos Ospina. Estrada and Ospina then disappeared in a car.
For the next two hours, Estrada and Ospina were challenging quarry. Homestead police and Customs agents followed their car to Quail Roost Drive, where Estrada climbed into the truck. After driving to the the Town & Country Center in Kendall, Estrada parked near the Wellesley Inn and walked into Sears, re-emerging an hour later with Ospina. For a moment Estrada and Ospina rendezvoused at the truck with three unidentified men. Then the mysterious trio drove away in the truck with the cocaine.
At some point, Chong believes, the three in the truck realized they were being followed and proceeded to abandon the cocaine - perhaps throwing it in a canal. Police at one point lost sight of the truck; a few minutes later they found it abandoned by the side of the road, its passengers having vanished.
Back at the Town & Country Center, Ospina and Estrada did something that a carload of police did not expect. The pair started walking directly toward the sedan that contained Customs Special Agent Joe Alaimo, Homestead Police Chief Curtis Ivy, and Maj. Chuck Habermehl. The threesome fairly reeked of law enforcement, and there was no good reason for them to be sitting in a car in the middle of a hot parking lot outside the Wellesley Inn with the engine turned off. And yet Estrada and Ospina, staring blankly at the authorities, walked right past them and into the hotel lobby. After checking into a room, they were joined by two young women. "They were partying in there the whole time, while we had the SWAT team outside, ready to go," Chong recalls. "We start beeping them saying, `Look man, we need the money, we need to fly somewhere, the heat's bad.' They said, `Don't worry, we got some money coming down.'"