Manuel Noriega, Miami's Favorite Dictator, Gets Seven Years in French Prison

Poor Manuel Noriega. Sure, it was a rough fall from grace to go from the iron fist ruling all of Panama -- from the Atlantic to the Pacific and all 20 miles in between -- to a jail cell in Miami.

But there was some dignity there, at least. Miami and fallen Latin American strongmen go together like D-Wade and the Heat.

What in hell is Noriega going to do in France? He's got plenty of time to figure it out now -- a French judge this morning sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Noriega, you'll recall, was deposed as Panama's dictator-in-chief in 1989, thanks to a U.S. invasion, and then spent two decades cooling his heels in the Federal Correctional Institutution in Southwest Miami-Dade on drug charges.

Just as he was nearing the end of his 30-year term in Miami, the feds extradited him to Paris in April.

The 76-year-old was convicted this morning of money laundering, tied to his transfer of $3 million in Medellin drug cartel profits through French bank accounts in the '80s.

Noriega plans to appeal, his lawyer tells the New York Times.


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