This week's metro tells the incredible story of Spanish brothers Artemio and Álvaro López Tardón. According to prosecutors, the two ran a tri-continental drug shipping and money-laundering empire worth nearly $100 million per year.
Yet with suspected ringleader Álvaro expected to plead not guilty this week, plenty of questions remain about Los Miami.
Such as: Why did Los Miami almost exclusively buy condos from Jorge Perez's Related real estate group? And what in balls was going on in room 502 at the Mark on Brickell Bay Drive?
1. What's up with the narco porn?
Despite the minimum of $26 million the group allegedly laundered through Miami via classy cars and swanky pads, Los Miami weren't above a little smut. According to prosecutors, David Andrew Pollack -- Álvaro López Tardón's righthand man -- ran a peepshow operation out of the Mark at 1155 Brickell Bay Dr.
Room 502 was equipped with booths for paying customers, but it isn't clear yet whether the apartment hosted live stripping or simply good ol' Internet wanking. We'll let you know as soon as we do.
2. Is there a Related Group connection?
Another question that has left us burning like gonorrhea ever since Los Miami's July 14 bust: What connection -- if any -- did the ring have with Jorge Perez's Related real estate group? For whatever reason, Los Miami's blinged-out Brazilian straw buyer Fabiani Krentz almost exclusively chose Related Group properties as a means for allegedly laundering narco cash.
Records dating back to 2001 show Krentz splurging on at least 12 Related Group properties: four apartments in the Mark on Brickell, seven in One Miami (325 and 335 S. Biscayne Blvd.), and one in the Murano at Portofino (1000 South Pointe Dr. in South Beach). Prosecutors say Krentz quickly quit-claimed the properties over to Álvaro López Tardón.
We tried to ask Related Group about Los Miami, but vice president and associate general counsel Betsy McCoy declined to comment. And when we asked around at the Mark on Brickell, building security threatened to call the cops.
3. Santero: spiritual leader or something more?
The July 14 raid also netted -- in addition to Álvaro, Pollack, and Krentz -- 66-year-old Vicente Cardelle, the only one of the four so far released on bail. By his lawyer's own admission, Cardelle was the personal santero to Álvaro and Artemio. But prosecutors say he was more, trading spiritual services for cash that he knew was ill-gotten.
"Alvaro was quite religious and relied on my client," says Cardelle's attorney, Jake Blumenfeld. "He certainly had a lot of money. Did my client know that it came from drugs, as the government alleges? No."
Either way, Cardelle was caught in April trying to take more than 20,000 euros to Madrid. So far, he hasn't been charged with money laundering like the rest of Los Miami.
4. Where's the money?
Prosecutors say Álvaro had at least 2 million euros stashed in his Coconut Grove apartment before a nasty fight with his wife led to his arrest and a restraining order. But fewer than 50,000 of those euros have been accounted for. So where's the money?
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Unlike Krentz, however, Álvaro still has enough funds left over after government seizures to pay for an attorney. Stripped of her two fur coats, multiple bank accounts, and 170 pieces of jewelry, Krentz could no longer afford a lawyer.
5. Dirty fuzz?
According to Spanish police, Los Miami routinely paid off dozens of dirty cops in Madrid to protect their massive drug-running operations. But did the same thing occur in South Florida? Riptide readers think so. Here are few comments about our metro:
Rich Bondi: And the cops who arrested him later quit the force thats only the money they turned in imagine how much those dirty pigs kept
Ifukedevalongoria: Do you really think the DEA hasnt known about this for years? Spanish police arent the only crooked cops. There's many more here in the states. When there are millions of $$$ involved, Even politicians look the other way. Gypsies, tramps and thieves.
michael wind: What about miami and miami beach police,someone got paid for letting them operate here for ten years.....