Last of the “Cocaine Cowboys” Pleads Guilty after 26 Years on the Run

Gustavo Falcon, the last of the notorious “Cocaine Cowboys,” has finally pleaded guilty to drug trafficking after years on the lam.

Gustavo Falcon pleaded guilty on February 1, 2018 to drug trafficking in the Miami federal court where his fellow Cocaine Cowboys were convicted years ago. Falcon, who goes by the nickname “Tabby,” is the 10th and final member of the cocaine smuggling gang indicted in 1991 to face justice.

Standing shackled and handcuffed in front of U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno, Falcon, 56, plead guilty to one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. He could get a prison sentence of no more than 14 years if Moreno agrees to the plea deal.

Led by Falcon’s brother Augusto “Willie” Falcon and Salvador “Sal” Magluta, the Cocaine Cowboys were “an extraordinarily prolific cocaine organization” throughout the 1980s, according to prosecutors.

During their 13-year reign, the Cocaine Cowboys smuggled an estimated 75 tons of cocaine into the U.S., netting more than $2.0 billion. According to one ledger, from January 1990 to October 1991 alone, the group brought in more than $142.0 million.

While the others members of the Cocaine Cowboys faced the courts years ago, Falcon went into hiding in 1991 and evaded justice for 26 years.

Falcon and his wife, Amelia, were arrested in April 2017 in a neighborhood near Orlando where they were living under aliases. Authorities had actually discovered their whereabouts in March and were keeping the family under surveillance.

As part of his plea deal, prosecutors decided not to indict Amelia and the couple’s two grown children for harboring a fugitive or obstruction of justice.

Falcon was never charged over any of the cocaine syndicate’s violence. He was mostly responsible for maintaining transaction ledgers, organizing transportation of drugs, and finding places across South Florida to stash the drugs.

Moreno will sentence Falcon in April.

“I had forgotten about this case until they seized you,” Moreno said. “I have no idea what I’m going to do.”

The Fall of the Cocaine Cowboys

It’s been a long road for the Cocaine Cowboys. Augusto and Magluta were actually acquitted at their 1996 trial, but their freedom was short lived. It was discovered that the pair paid off witnesses and at least one juror with a $400,000 bribe.

At his second trial in 2002, Magluta was convicted of drug money-laundering and received a 205-year prison sentence. It was later reduced to 195 years.

Augusto took a plea deal in 2003 and was sentenced to 20 years. He has since been released.

All of the other defendants served various prison terms after pleading guilty and are now free.