Cocaine smuggling, personalized leather bomber jackets, $2 million cars, and high-rise penthouses across Miami.
No, it's not 2 Fast 2 Furious -- although eerily close -- but an indictment unsealed yesterday that charges brothers Álvaro and Artemio López Tardón and three others with international drug money laundering.
And for all their allegedly ill-gotten loot -- a Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari Eno, Rolls-Royce Ghost, Aston Martin DB9, Hummer H2, ten Mercedes-Benzes, 15 apartments, and millions in Miami bank accounts -- the group was brought down when one member tried to take 21,605 euros on a flight to Madrid.
According to the indictment, the group was part of a tri-continental drug-smuggling operation. Colombian coke was somehow sent to Spain, where it was "processed and distributed and the drug proceeds collected by other co-conspirators." But there was enough for Artemio López Tardón to send his brother in Miami Beach his share via couriers or wire transfers.
Once the funds arrived in the States, Álvaro and two others -- Fabiani Krentz and David William Pollack -- would allegedly launder the money in true Vin Diesel style, buying prime real estate and fancy rides.
Feds "conservatively" estimate the group laundered $26 million in less than seven years. Europe loves its blow.
The gang's goodies included four apartments in The Mark On Brickell (1155 Brickell Bay Dr.), seven in One Miami (325 and 335 S. Biscayne Blvd.), and two near South Pointe Park in Miami Beach.
One Miami towers, where the gang bought seven apartments, allegedly with drug money
Apparently they also liked to dress down their luxury life New Times-reporter-style: Also on their shopping list -- wedged between a Hummer and a Benz -- was a 1999 Toyota Camry. We're assuming that, like ours, it was faded gold, filled with chocolate candy wrappers, and smelled like cottage cheese.
Despite the brilliant Toyota ruse, the group began to unravel April 12 when Vincente Orlando Cardelle -- an associate of Álvaro's -- was stopped at MIA on his way to Madrid with 21,605 euros.
The five arrested might have once been part of a larger drug ring called Los Miami, a name they had sewn onto their bomber jackets. Spanish paper El País reported two years ago that Los Miami's onetime leader, Juan Carlos Peña Enano, was caught at a ski chalet outside Madrid.
According to the article, Los Miami formed in the late '90s with Peña as its boss and Álvaro López Tardón as his lieutenant. But Álvaro broke with Peña and started his own group, only to be kidnapped and tortured for his treachery and then released.
The split unleashed a bloody war between the two factions, El País reported. In 2004, gunmen ambushed Peña's Porsche Carrera at a stoplight, shooting him in the chest and back. Later, hit men ran him off the road on his motorcycle; he lost his left foot in the crash. He was arrested in southern Spain in late 2004 with 70 kilos of coke but skipped bail to Brazil, only to be caught five years later celebrating his son's birthday.
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Now Álvaro López Tardón has joined his former boss in jail, just on the other side of the Atlantic. With the exception of Cardelle -- who faces five years in prison -- Álvaro and his fellow group members could receive 20 years each.
Moral of this story: (1) Don't celebrate your children's birthdays, and (2) don't try to carry a briefcase full of euros on a plane. It looks even more suspicious than your fleet of Lamborghinis.