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Two of Miami’s ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ used drug fortune to fund CIA-tied effort to assassinate Fidel Castro

October 3, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Two of Miami’s ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ used drug fortune to fund CIA-tied effort to assassinate Fidel Castro AP Photos

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Two of Miami’s most notorious ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ used a big portion of their drug money to pay for a CIA-backed effort to kill Fidel Castro in the 1990s.

Willie Falcon, one of those infamous cocaine traffickers, is facing deportation to Cuba after serving 20 years behind bars on drug trafficking and money laundering charges.

The 61-year-old Cuban, who’s spent most of his life in the U.S., would be one of the few convicted felons sent back to the communist-run country.

An angry Cuban government “would love to get their hands on him,” Frank Quintero, a lawyer who served members of anti-Castro groups, said to the Miami Herald.

In the 1980s, Falcon was one of the most well-known ‘Cocaine Cowboys”’— popular for their high-octane way of life — along with his brother, Gustavo (Tabby), and high school friend Salvador (Sal) Magluta.

Falcon faces deportation back to his native Cuba, where he might be greeted by an irate Castro regime. (AP)

When the three were charged in 1991 with smuggling $2 billion of cocaine into the U.S. over 13 years, Tabby got away as the other two went to trial.

The younger Falcon was taken into custody in Florida this spring after over 25 years on the lam.

During their first trial, which resulted in an acquittal in 1996, Falcon and Magluta began financing Cuban exiles and militants planning to assassinate Castro.

Fellow Miami drug lord Antonio Garcia Perez spoke to them about helping fund PUND, an exile group planning to murder the Cuban dictator. Luis Posada Carriles, a CIA agent, concentrated on bringing Castro down, was a member of PUND member.

The group had established training camps in Florida’s Everglades to launch a guerrilla attack on Castro, The New York Daily News reported.

By 1993, about 2,000 anti-Castro militants were active in Florida. Federal officials seized about 40 weapons from a PUND outpost in one bust that year.

Perez couldn’t assist the organization as much after he was arrested in 1994 in Texas. His bankrolling of the CIA-linked effort is believed to have gotten him a substantially reduced sentence.

Magluta, who’s serving a 195-year prison sentence, helped back the effort while he was in custody. (AP)

Running out of cash to fund the Castro effort, Perez went to Falcon and Magluta for assistance.

“Willie Falcon was an anti-Castro advocate — viscerally,” his former defense attorney, Rick Diaz, told the Miami Herald.

The two were ultimately acquitted, but federal authorities soon learned that they paid off three witnesses.

Magluta was re-tried in 2001 and was hit with a 195-year prison stint.

His cousin, Alfred Alonso, noted that Magluta and Falcon talked about helping the anti-Castro effort with two men during a prison visit in the mid-’90s.

Alonso also testified he took a package of money to an “anti-Castro affiliate.” The cash, he added, was to employ an assassin to “knock him (Castro) down.”

Sending inmates back to Cuba are unique, especially since the U.S. didn’t have relations with the country until 2015.

“Why the U.S. government would do this knowing their hands are not clean is beyond any reason,” Quintero, the anti-Castro attorney, told the Miami Herald. “Under the present government, any deportation of political activists or anti-Castro activists, knowing that they will be executed, amounts to the gravest of human rights violations.”

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