'Cocaine Cowboy' caught after being on the run for 26 years
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - U.S. Marshals said Gustavo Falcon had been running from the law for 26 years. That came to an end this week, when he apprehended in Kissimmee, Florida.
Falcon was described as the last of the "Cocaine Cowboys" -- the gang infamous for running more than $2 billion in cocaine and smuggling it into Miami, between 1978 and 1991. U.S. Marshals spokesperson Barry Gordon said investigators were surprised to discover Falcon was still living in the states.
“It was hard to believe he was still in the country, because so many investigators thought Gustavo Falcon had left the county and was either living in Mexico or Cuba,” said Gordon.
Gordon said investigators recently developed information that Falcon had assumed the name Luis Reiss. Just last month, they discovered he had been living in Osceola County and ran across court records showing “Luis Reiss” and his wife had been in a car accident in Kissimmee area.
Through their investigation, they tracked the couple down to a rental home Cavendish Drive. On Wednesday, agents started tailing Falcon, as he and his wife left their home on their bicycles. Gordon said the special agents followed Falcon and his wife on their 40-mile bike ride.
“It was kind of hard to initially ID him, because he had a bike helmet and sunglasses on, so they played it safe and followed him for several hours to ensure this was in fact Gustavo Falcon,” said Gordon.
Agents arrested Falcon in the middle of an intersection leading into his subdivision. Joe Rogers works for the management company that has been leasing the Falcons their home. Rogers said the family had been renting the home they have been living in for nearly 15 years. He said the home had been advertised and is priced as a vacation rental.
“It was funny. We used to crack jokes about, 'What are you selling drugs or something? You could have bought the house once you’ve rented it for a certain amount of years! For the price, you could have bought it in cash!'” said Rogers.
Dave Pera has been living two houses down from Falcon.
“This is the kind of stuff you see in the movies,” said Pera.
He said he would always wave to the couple. Pera said he had never seen Falcon or his wife in cars, as they went everywhere by bike. He said he saw Falcon in the intersection handcuffed. Pera was shocked when he learned the identity of his neighbor.
“Kind of makes me feel glad I never went over there to borrow a cup of flour,” said Pera.
The U.S. Marshals will be extraditing Falcon back down to Miami, where he was slapped to face the drug allegations he was charged with 1991. At Falcon’s hearing at the Federal Court House in Orlando, U.S. prosecutors said Falcon could face life in prison. At this point, Falcon’s wife has not been charged.