From long-lost cocaine lords found hiding in Orlando to steroid-slinging gym owners to a truly Satanic plot to robocall millions of phone numbers with spam messages, 2017 ended up as a vintage year for crime — even by Miami's lofty standards.
These are the ten most-read crime stories in Miami New Times this year:
Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission said it had proposed a $120 million fine against Abramovich, that trickster-god, in what the FCC has called "one of the largest — and most dangerous — illegal robocalling campaigns that the Commission has ever investigated." Abramovich was allegedly even sending calls over emergency phone lines used for medical professionals and hospital call centers.
From Henry Flagler to Big Sugar, abusing the environment is a proud Florida pastime. The Sunshine State is a natural wonder, full of rare birds, beautiful fish, and people hellbent on killing every last living thing they encounter. Take, for instance, this week: On Monday, Capt. Mark "the Shark" Quartiano, the infamous Miami shark hunter New Times profiled in 2016, caught a group of would-be anglers torturing a shark by dragging it behind their boat until it died.
The anglers apparently sent Quartiano the video themselves, thinking he'd applaud their shark-abusing ways. Instead, Quartiano posted the clip online to shame them, and now Florida Fish and Wildlife officials confirm they've identified the fishermen in the video and are investigating the incident. (Because charges have not been filed yet, FWC declined to name the suspects; New Times is likewise not naming them. The abuser could not be reached for comment.)
Many media outlets are reporting that Esteban Santiago, age 26, is the gunman who fired shots today at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, killing at least five and injuring eight.
In an MSNBC interview, Sen. Bill Nelson identified Santiago as the shooter and said he was carrying a military ID. Broward Sheriff Scott Israel says the gunman was taken into custody without incident:
On Instagram, Richard Rodriguez comes across as a high-living gym fanatic, posing with top bodybuilding athletes and posting photos of luxury sports cars and his extreme adventures, such as skydiving and firing high-powered weapons. As owner of the popular Iron Addicts gym just north of downtown Miami, he had recently become a well-known figure in local fitness circles.
But this morning, Rodriguez was led out of his gym in handcuffs after federal officers raided the facility at NE 17th Street and North Miami Avenue. A source tells New Times that Rodriguez was charged with selling steroids.
Prison inmates — especially those awaiting trial — cannot legally consent to sex with guards, supervisors, or anyone else who holds that much power over their lives in government custody. That should be common sense, and it's why the federal government defines sex between prison guards and inmates as rape. For that same reason, a prison guard at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Miami was sentenced Tuesday to eight months' imprisonment after pleading guilty to raping a woman under his care.
According to court documents, Damon Coleman — a married man with children — worked the 10 p.m.-to-6 a.m. shift in the women's wing of Miami's FDC, located on NE Fourth Street, a few blocks from downtown Miami's Freedom Tower and American Airlines Arena. In June 2016, he was assigned to keep watch over a woman identified only as "E.C." in court documents. The woman had recently pleaded guilty to undisclosed criminal charges and was being housed alone in a cell while she awaited sentencing.
As Hurricane Irma plows toward Miami, plywood and bottled water are roughly as hard to find as a good Donald Trump Twitter take, and lines for gas have grown to Soviet proportions. Through it all, the vast majority of Miamians have acted with grace, patience, and good humor. But not everyone has been totally cool under fire.
A video shot last night at a Mobil station packed with hurricane preppers trying to snag some fuel shows a man whipping out a gun and angrily pointing it at another driver.
While supposedly transferring data to a customer's new iPhone one day, an employee at a Kendall T-Mobile store decided to go on a little fishing expedition through her photos and videos. When he found some that piqued his interest — nudes and videos of the woman having sex — he took the liberty of sending them to himself and then forwarded them to a few friends.
He might have gotten away with the extremely creepy move, except that he left all of the outgoing messages on the phone. The customer got home and saw that her most private images had been sent to a number she didn't recognize. Startled, she called it and got the T-Mobile guy's voicemail.
Twenty-six years ago, the feds busted Miami's biggest smuggling operation of the Cocaine Cowboys era: a $2 billion pipeline run by high-school pals Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta. It would take another decade of contentious court battles before the pair was finally convicted, wrapping up one of the nation's most massive drug cases.
But there was always a loose end. Just before the two were indicted in 1991, Gustavo "Taby" Falcon, Willy's brother, vanished. He hadn't been seen since — until yesterday, when federal agents found him in a rented home in Kissimmee. Falcon was nabbed as he returned from a bike ride with his wife and hauled off to Orange County Jail in a neon Nike shirt.
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But police say the guru — a 58-year-old whose real name is Keith Fox — used his position as a respected teacher to groom and then repeatedly have sex with a 15-year-old girl. Fox was arrested yesterday and charged with sexual battery of a minor.
The news stunned South Florida's yoga world, where Fox had an oversize presence both at his own studios in Delray Beach and at large traveling festivals such as Wanderlust and Yogafest.
Going into debt with a drug dealer is never a fantastic game plan. But police say one Miami man who stiffed his connection out of $500 worth of narcotics ended up suffering far worse payback than he ever could have imagined.
The victim, whom police haven't identified, ended up kidnapped at gunpoint, locked on a Little Havana back patio for four days, and then shot in the head. Amazingly, he survived the ordeal, and police have now arrested four people behind the bloody payback, including a 21-year-old woman who cops say pulled the trigger.