(Valdez's criminal defense attorney, Alexander Michaels, says he has no knowledge of his clients' activities in Mexico. Mia Roo, a spokeswoman for the Fort Lauderdale DEA office, says the agency will not discuss any of the allegations. Williams, who didn't return calls, can't comment on the Univision interview, Roo says.)

This much, at least, is clear: On July 4, 2011, days after the mission, Valdez returned to Miami International Airport, where U.S. Customs & Border Protection officers arrested him off his flight from Cancún on the warrant from his missed court date for the 2008 Home Depot theft.

Valdez sat in county jail until September and then pleaded guilty to felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and misdemeanor theft. He caught another break, though. Miami-Dade Criminal Court Judge Victoria Brennan gave him credit for the 74 days he had already spent in jail.

Raonel Valdez stole $2.8 million in gold from George Villegas (above).
Marta Xochilt Perez
Raonel Valdez stole $2.8 million in gold from George Villegas (above).
Raonel Valdez slipped through the cracks of a broken justice system, says private investigator David Bolton.
Miami-Dade Corrections
Raonel Valdez slipped through the cracks of a broken justice system, says private investigator David Bolton.

Free once again to wreak havoc, Valdez didn't disappoint. On April 30, 2012, he showed up at the West Miami home he once shared with Mairelys Carrillo, the mother of his 2-year-old daughter. Carrillo, who had recently broken up with Valdez, barred the door as he threatened to break the glass. Two days later, he returned and attacked her, grabbing her neck with one hand and brandishing a knife with the other, according to a West Miami Police report. (Carrillo declined to be interviewed for this story). He took Carrillo's purse containing her iPhone 4 and $300 cash before stalking off.

A few weeks later, on May 10, 2012, police set up surveillance on a four-bedroom house at 13362 SW 256th Terrace based on an anonymous tip. Investigators watched Valdez walk from the front door to the mailbox. Approached by cops, he claimed he was just "visiting" the house, but inside, police found a room packed with marijuana plants and 20 pounds of processed weed. Valdez was booked on state cannabis charges.

Four months later, on August 5, Valdez confronted his ex-girlfriend again, surprising her outside her new pad in Doral. He slapped Carrillo across the face and called her a whore, according to a Miami-Dade Police report. On August 7, Carrillo requested protection from domestic violence, claiming Valdez abused her, snorted cocaine, harassed her at the Pink Pony, and threatened to kill her. West Miami Police officers arrested Valdez on a felony armed robbery charge and, as a bail condition, strapped a GPS device to his ankle to ensure he stayed away from Carrillo.

A year after his bold but fruitless Mexican caper, Valdez's criminal run seemed at an end. Instead, he was poised for his biggest rip-off yet.


Twelve minutes after Valdez and his conspirators snatched Villegas' two suitcases full of gold, the ringleader walked back into his West Miami house and stayed put until 8:19 a.m. At 9 o'clock sharp, he rolled up to the apartment of Yuxibeidis Acosta, a doe-eyed brunet stripper from Hialeah whom Valdez had begun dating.

Such precise times are more than guesses: They're the exact data taken from the ankle monitor that Valdez amazingly wore throughout the whole caper. That detail, combined with the court system's breathtaking incompetence afterward, shows how he had learned to play the American criminal justice system like a concert pianist tickles the ivories.

"Raonel was scoping out the gold while out on bond for the marijuana charge and the armed robbery of his ex-girlfriend," says Bolton, the private investigator. "Of course he doesn't care about getting caught because he's always back on the streets."

Valdez certainly gave police and prosecutors plenty of chances to catch up to him. For days after the heist, he peddled his ill-gotten booty at pawnshops around Dade. Then, on October 17, he took Acosta to a car dealer and bought her a 2008 Toyota Yaris.

Five days later, he voluntarily headed to court to answer for his marijuana-trafficking charge. If he was worried about getting pinched for the gold theft, he didn't show it. He was on time, pleaded guilty, and received two years of supervised probation from Judge Victoria Sigler.

Coral Gables Police, meanwhile, finally connected Valdez to the multimillion-dollar heist thanks to an anonymous tip. Villegas quickly identified Valdez from a photo lineup. The day after his pot sentencing, he was arrested in West Miami.

"The fact that this guy has an ankle monitoring device made it easy to place him on the scene," says Dean Wellinghoff, a Gables Police spokesman. With all of that data plus Villegas' testimony, prosecutors had more than a solid case.

Yet at a December bond hearing, Valdez came out on top again. Prosecutors pointed out his prior probation violations, his chronic history of failing to appear in court, and the fact that he allegedly committed his most recent crime while wearing an ankle monitor.

But Valdez's lawyer, Alexander Michaels, convinced Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Leon Firtel that the evidence was mostly circumstantial. What's more, prosecutors hadn't tied Valdez to any organized crime ring. Quri Wasi's investigators now believe he belongs to a crew that participated in his alleged crimes in Mexico. (Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office spokesman Ed Griffith would not comment on the case, referring New Times to the court transcripts.)

"I have a duty to do here, and I call it the way I see it," Firtel said while setting Valdez's bond at $75,000 and — amazingly — ordering him to wear yet another ankle monitor. "If I'm wrong, I'm wrong."

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13 comments
ballyballdez
ballyballdez

Florida is the most corrupt state but that is not surprising. Look who their governor is... Slick Rick Scott. <a href="http://miamiasurvivorstale.blogspot.com/">Click Here for the 411 on Miami Crime and Corruption</a> and read some excerpts from Miami a Survivor's Tale by Frank Abrams Esq.


On balance Miami is the most corrupt.

trouble7237
trouble7237

I see nothing "organized" about this crime...by the way if we are to talk about criminals the names Nevin Shapiro ($930M scheme), Scott Rothstein ($1.2B scheme) and Fred Davis Clark ($300M scheme) come to mind..I'm not sure which part of Cuba they are from..

miami321973
miami321973

I grew up in Miami. All my friends and family have since got the hell out of here. I'm out of here in two months and it will be hard, but I want to live in the United States. I'm sick of having Spanish thrown down my throat and being a minority speaking English. When you leave Miami, it's amazing how polite people are and people drive normal. I went to a few high school graduations and was sickened how Carvahlo spends 99% of his speech letting everyone know how he will be the first Hispanic president. Miami is now a third world banana republic full of Cubans. All of my Cuban (Americanized) friends have also left Miami because they are sick of it.

akpsiprez
akpsiprez

Cubans are also the reason Miami is so corrupt and falling apart.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

it's not that CUBANs invented crime or originally settled miami , some ethincally identifyable group has always predominated the scene, for good and or bad

it just happens to currently be the CUBANs

had then gov bob graham not told miami beach / south beach to basically go to hell when mayor daoud had requested state assistance in combating the marielito flush of tens of thousands of castros shit prisoners into the area in a few weeks a foothold would NOT have taken place as it did = period

otherwise america has a history of ethnic groups begining as crime syndicates until resources allow them to live comfortably legally and their futre generatiosn become the lawyers and politicians and legislators

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

So a handful of people combined with a Progressive(Liberal) justice system makes all Cubans bad.


The pretentious Left is so racist

nycwest23male
nycwest23male

@miami321973 

leave!    I hear LA is nice-  lots of Spanish spoken there

same in San Diego and all over Texas

same in Chicago same in DC and in NYC

be careful with Atlanta  tons of crime there!

so where are you going???   please keep us advised

nycwest23male
nycwest23male

@akpsiprez 

prove it before you make discriminatory comments

the Jews aren't corrupt, the Blacks or other Latino immigrants???

just wondering?  

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

cubans didn't invent corruption either and ALL the history of miami that i am aware of included various groups over the years looting and scaming and causing the demise of miami institutions

"sunny skies and shaddy people" = has always been the motto of "the magic city" as from what i know

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

made it WHAT ?

good ? bad ? or just crowded ?

nycwest23male
nycwest23male

@miami321973 

 leave and shut the door behind you

but remember leave the job and nice home too ok

there will be 10 people to replace most of whom, will speak some Spanish  and will be glad to live here.  Miami is booming.

Im very proud of the city

I've lived in many other US cities  and they disappoiont

 
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