Miami: See It Like a Drug Dealer
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1. Harold Ackerman Cali cartel's man in Miami. Busted in 1992 along with seven subordinates and 6000 keys of cocaine. Seized ledgers indicated Ackerman's outfit did $56 million in business in Miami in the ten months before his arrest. He kept a low profile at his North Miami Beach home.
2. Juan Acosta A Colombian hit squad in 1989 gunned down the attorney in his Miami office. He had just received a subpoena to testify before a grand jury about some of his clients, including Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta.
3. Brickell Avenue A banking bonanza accompanied Miami's cocaine boom, and it was concentrated along Brickell. In 1982 a reported 44 American banks were licensed to make international transactions and 36 foreign banks opened local branches.
4. Cigarette Racing Team In 1987 Don Aronow was murdered on NE 188th Street in North Miami Beach, near his Cigarette Racing Team manufacturing plant, which produced the famed Cigarette go-fast boats favored by drug runners everywhere.
5. Cocoplum This posh bayside Coral Gables neighborhood has been home to a number of high-profile traffickers (FBI agents called it Cocaineplum), including Colombian kingpin Hernan Arboleda, who in May 1996 fled his waterfront mansion at 286 Costa Nera Rd., leaving behind more than three million dollars in art, jewelry, and furnishings. His abrupt departure came just hours after federal drug agents searched his opulent home.
6. The Collection In 1993 federal agents seized Armando "Mandy" Fernandez's prized luxury-car dealerships in Coral Gables after they indicted the former speedboat champ on drug-trafficking charges. Fernandez was sentenced to eighteen years in prison after pleading guilty. Thanks to his ex-business partner, developer Ugo Colombo, The Collection lives on at 200 Bird Rd. in Coral Gables.
7. Rafael and Ray Corona Father and son were convicted in 1987 of racketeering. The feds busted them using a marijuana smuggler's money to buy Sunshine State Bank, based in South Miami. In a 1991 sworn affidavit, Ray Corona admitted to laundering tens of millions of dollars for Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta.
8. Sonny Crockett He drove a Ferrari, wore Versace suits, and lived on a sailboat with his pet alligator Elvis. During Miami Vice's run, Crockett's vessel was docked at the Miami Beach Marina (300 Alton Rd.) and the Bayside Marina (401 Biscayne Blvd.).
9. Dadeland Mall On July 11, 1979, two men emerged from a party supplies panel truck that was really an armored "war wagon" stuffed with weapons. They casually walked over to the Crown Liquors store, removed two submachine guns from a paper bag, and sprayed the place with bullets, killing a Colombian drug trafficker and his bodyguard. Two store employees were wounded. Thus was launched the era of the cocaine cowboys.
10. Dean Investments International FBI and DEA agents set up this fake corporation in a Miami Lakes shopping center as part of Operation Swordfish. Their dummy investment firm washed about $19 million for various drug dealers. The money-laundering probe led to the indictment of 61 people, of which only half were apprehended.
11. Drug Enforcement Administration Last year the DEA confiscated 14,329 kilos of cocaine in Florida (the agency will not release figures for Miami-Dade County alone). Local investigations are run out of the Miami field office (8400 NW 53rd St.), largest in the nation.
12. 843 Auto Sales This car dealership at 843 NW 27th Ave. provided Miami River Cops with vehicles.
13. Severo Escobar A local operative for Colombian trafficker José "Pepe" Cabrera Sarmiento, he was charged in 1992 with distributing some 15,000 pounds of cocaine. Feds grabbed his $200,000 Brickell condo, along with his condo in Key Biscayne, a home in Miami, and property in Hialeah.
14. Federal Bureau of Investigation The FBI's North Miami Beach office (16320 NW Second Ave.) employs more than 700 special agents and support personnel to combat federal violators from Vero Beach to Antarctica.
15. Florida's Turnpike Colombian hit man Conrado "El Loco" Valencia Zalgado, racing along the turnpike in his Audi in April 1979, opened fire with his MAC-10 on rival drug runners who were trying to evade him in a Pontiac Grand Prix. After the shootout, authorities found a handcuffed corpse in El Loco's abandoned car.
16. Joe Gersten On the morning of April 30, 1992, the day after Gersten reported his Mercedes had been stolen from his Coral Gables estate, a small-time drug dealer and a hooker told police they robbed Gersten at knifepoint while the county commissioner was smoking a rock with another prostitute in a dope hole on NE 31st Street, just east of Biscayne Boulevard. Gersten fled to Australia rather than face prosecution.
17. Great American Bank of Dade County This Miami financial institution had the distinction of being the first to go down as part of Operation Greenback in 1982. Four bank officials were charged with laundering some $96 million in drug proceeds.
18. Harbour House Site of the waterfront condominium complex where cocaine smugglers Jon Roberts and Mickey Munday posted girls in upper-floor apartments. They served as lookouts, watching for law-enforcement officials patrolling Haulover Cut in search of drug boats.
19. Johnny Rockets The eatery at 728 Ocean Dr. was once the Sun Ray Apartments, where Brian De Palma filmed the gruesome chainsaw scene in Scarface.
20. Jones Boat Yard Corrupt Miami cops raided a fishing boat docked at this repair yard on the Miami River (3399 NW S. River Dr.). They ripped off some 400 kilos of coke as the crewmen jumped into the river. Three drowned, triggering the Miami River Cops scandal.
21. La Gorce Island In October 1991, 25 U.S. marshals stormed the palatial Miami Beach compound (98 E. La Gorce Cir.) of homegrown drug kingpin Sal Magluta and arrested him. Prosecutors said Magluta and his partner Willy Falcon amassed more than $2.1 billion in cash and assets by smuggling at least 75 tons of cocaine into the United States.
22. Leomar Parkway In 1988 a six-block stretch of SW 132nd Avenue, from Eighth to Fourteenth Street, was named in honor of developer Leonel Martinez. Shortly after his indictment on drug-smuggling charges two years later, Leomar Parkway ceased to exist.
23. Lipstik After losing the criminal case against Miami's own cocaine cowboys Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta, a despondent U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey stopped by this east Kendall strip club (8099 S. Dixie Hwy.), bought a bottle of Dom Perignon, and proceeded to drunkenly bite a dancer on the arm with such force she reported it to police. Coffey resigned soon thereafter.
24. Magnum Auto Sales A defunct west Miami used-car dealership (8600 SW Eighth St.) owned by Pablo Martinez and his son Pablo Jr. They purchased more than 800 kilograms of stolen cocaine from several Miami River Cops. The Martinezes were convicted on conspiracy and trafficking charges in 1997.
25. Willy Martinez The once flamboyant Miami Beach-based boxing promoter was busted in 1989 for trying to bring 500 kilos into South Florida. His house on Sunset Island #2 was featured in several Miami Vice episodes.
26. Miami International Airport Since 1980 countless thousands of pounds of cocaine have been seized from planes landing at MIA.
27. Barbara Mouzin Leader of a coke ring whose members were middle-age women, known as the Grandma Mafia, she operated from a Miami Lakes townhouse a half-mile from the home of former Sen. Bob Graham.
28. Mutiny Hotel Hedonistic epicenter of Miami's glitzy, gaudy, and violent cocaine era. Now a condo-hotel, it's located at 2951 S. Bayshore Dr. in Coconut Grove.
29. Manuel Antonio Noriega Officially a prisoner of war, the former Panamanian military strongman will be cooling his heels for many years at the Federal Correctional Institution in South Miami-Dade (15801 SW 137th Ave.).
30. North Bay Village In 1986 five officers working for the village police force were arrested for accepting payoffs to protect drug deliveries and attempting to steal $1.25 million worth of cocaine.
31. Opa-locka Airport This quiet little airfield served as the base of operations for Jack DeVoe, a commercial pilot who smuggled cocaine for Falcon and Magluta in the late Seventies and early Eighties. DeVoe and former Miami Herald reporter James Malone were among 42 people busted May 2, 1984, for importing nearly eight tons of cocaine into South Florida over a two-year period.
32. Port of Miami A very busy place for contraband of all sorts, especially cocaine during the Eighties.
33. Benjamin Prieto-Castro From his apartment in the Triton Towers condominium at 2899 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, Prieto-Castro organized the shipment of roughly 300 kilos per month to New York.
34. Scott Rakow In a reverse drug sting gone bad on June 30, 1988, Rakow, a Miami Beach undercover detective, chased one of the drug dealers across the 79th Street Causeway to Miami. The dealer, fleeing on foot, fatally shot Rakow in the head.
35. Doris Mangeri Salazar Salazar was recently sentenced to 24 years in federal prison on drug conspiracy charges. The former Realtor helped her ex-boyfriend, Saudi Prince Nayef Bin Sultan Bin Fawwaz al-Shaalan, broker a deal with Colombian cocaine traffickers to buy 2000 kilos. When federal agents arrested Salazar at her Coral Gables residence in 2002, they found photographs of her in the Saudi Arabian desert next to Humvees, camels, horses, and tents.
36. Eric Sisser The once-powerful lobbyist ran a stop sign in west Coconut Grove. Miami Police officers pulled him over near South Dixie Highway and SW 37th Avenue. In his car sat a neighborhood crack dealer. In Sisser's pockets: four bags of rock and a homemade pipe.
37. Stefano's Popular Key Biscayne restaurant/bar owned by Stefano Brandino. In 1997 Brandino was convicted of conspiracy to launder drug money. The feds took control of Stefano's (24 Crandon Blvd.) and other landmark eateries operated by Brandino and his wife Linda: Sundays on the Bay, Linda B's Steak House, Salty's at Haulover Park, and Bellini's on Captiva Island.
38. Sunny Isles Beach Cuban-American drug smuggler Alex DeCubas ripped off 1000 pounds of cocaine from the Dirty Dancing, a 56-foot yacht docked at the marina behind the old Castaways resort at 400 Sunny Isles Blvd.
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