Miami's Black-Market Cigarette King Pleads Guilty
Earlier this summer, New Times brought you the story of Roman Vidal, a 54-year-old Cutler Bay resident accused of funneling millions of dollars' worth of black-market cigarettes through the Port of Miami to criminal gangs in Europe.
Just before 11 a.m. today, Vidal pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, and smuggling.
Speaking in heavily accented English, Vidal admitted his role in planning at least four shipments of millions of black-market smokes to Europe. Vidal hid the cigs beneath wooden flooring, yarn, and building insulation inside shipping containers and then skipped out on the millions in taxes.
Although federal investigators say some of Vidal's profits went to the Irish terrorist group the Real IRA -- a violent gang responsible for the murder of two British soldiers earlier this year -- he didn't face any charges of supporting terrorism.
Vidal declined to comment after the hearing. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the three fraud charges, and up to 10 years in prison for the one count of smuggling. His sentencing is set for November 10.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.