Los Miami Gang's Property-Flipping, Steroid-Using Leader Faces Jury Verdict Today
Alvaro Lopez Tardon allegedly laundered drug money by buying and selling Bugattis like this one.
Photo by Michael E. Miller
Chances are good that Alvaro Lopez Tardon will be found guilty of money laundering today or tomorrow. If he is, there probably won't be anyone in the federal court room to shed a tear: Tardon's associates have all turned on him, including his wife.
Here at Riptide, however, we will mourn the end to one of the most Miami stories ever. Somehow, Tardon's short life managed to touch on every shady aspect of this city, from steroids to plastic surgery, Santeria to straw-buying SoBe penthouses, drug smuggling to dealing exotic cars.
In other words, Tardon was the Tony Montana of our times.
See also: Los Miami gang nabbed in huge drug bust
In Madrid, cops broke down the door to Artemio Lopez Tardon's palatial estate, arresting the one-eyed drug don before finding 19 million euros hidden under the floorboards.
In Miami, police raided a Santeria-filled penthouse at South Point's swanky Continuum condo building, where they arrested Artemio's younger brother, Alvaro, on charges of money laundering.
Prosecutors on both sides of the Atlantic have accused the brothers of using real estate and luxury cars to launder drug proceeds. They allegedly shipped Colombian cocaine to Europe, funneling money back to Miami in wire transfers or, even less discretely, by buying Bugattis in Spain and then reselling them here in South Florida.
The brothers were literally rolling in cash. Alvaro allegedly used drug money and a coterie of accomplices to buy pricey condos around downtown and South Beach.
Alvaro Lopez Tardon
The younger Tardon was a heavily tatted and totally ripped. He posed on Facebook, flexing his muscles in leather skirts. He was also addicted to plastic surgery.
And steroids. In a truly Miami twist, Tardon's steroid supplier was none other than Tony Bosch -- the Biogenesis founder whose botched drug operation would ultimately bring down Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez.
But first it brought down Los Miami. Four months before his money laundering arrest, Alvaro Lopez Tardon went on a 'roid rage. He smashed his head through a TV in his $600,000 Coconut Grove condo. Then he rounded on his wife, Sharon Cohen, who had recently filed for divorce from her increasingly deranged husband.
Tardon grabbed a kitchen knife from the counter and put it to her throat. Then he punched her repeatedly in the stomach. "I'm going to kill you if you don't do what I say!" he hollered.
Instead, she hit a panic button and Tardon was arrested. Cohen later began cooperating with the Feds and the Los Miami gang began unraveling.
Now, after a six-week trial, Tardon appears likely to be going to prison. His wife has left him. His accomplices have tattled on him. And his half-blind brother remains locked up in Spain.
If he is convicted, it will mark the end of one of Europe's biggest drug cartels: one infamous in Spain for leaving behind dead bodies and drug-processing labs.
Here in Miami, it will symbolize the end to an incredible story of greed and excess.
But it won't be the end of an era. Somewhere in Miami, another Alvaro Lopez Tardon -- another Tony Montana -- is rolling around town in a blood-money Bugatti at this very moment.
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