One of Miami's infamous "cocaine cowboys" who was set to be released from prison later this week will instead be taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, NBC 6 has learned.
Augusto Willy" Falcon took a plea deal in 2003 and was sentenced to 20 years behind bars but was scheduled for release from a Kentucky prison on June 17, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
But sources familiar with the case told NBC 6 that Falcon will be picked up from prison Saturday and immediately placed in ICE detention before he has to appear before an immigration judge. The sources said Falcon, originally from Cuba, is a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
ICE officials later confirmed in a statement that they plan to take custody of Falcon.
"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lodged an immigration detainer on Augusto Guillermo Falcon Ramos, 61, a citizen of Cuba, on June 7, so that ICE can take custody of him upon his release from federal prison," the statement read. "ICE is focused on identifying, arresting and removing public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws."
Willy Falcon, his brother Gustavo, Salvador "Sal" Magluta and others were originally charged in a 1991 indictment that claimed they were involved in a major cocaine smuggling operation in the 1980s. The gang purportedly smuggled at least 75 tons of cocaine into the U.S., earning some $2 billion during the hyper-violent "Miami Vice" era.
Gustavo Falcon vanished after the indictment and spent some 26 years on the lam before he was arrested by U.S. marshals in April near Orlando, where he lived under the fake name Luis Reiss with his wife. Investigators tracked down Falcon after the false name surfaced in a 2013 car accident near Kissimmee, Florida, and was linked to a house in Hialeah, Florida, once owned by Falcon.
Augusto Falcon and Magluta were acquitted at a 1996 trial, but it turned out that the pair had bought off witnesses and at least one member of the jury, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison after admitting taking a $400,000 bribe.
Magluta was tried a second time and convicted of drug-related money laundering in 2002, receiving a 205-year prison sentence later cut down to 195 years.