Cocaine Cowboy Mario Gonzalez, Who Once Plotted to Assassinate Feds, Picked Up in the Redland

Last week, armored vehicles, two helicopters, and more than 40 officers picked up a notorious cocaine-era assassin who was first arrested a quarter century ago after police shot and missed more than 130 times.

This time, Mario Gonzalez went down without a fight. He was picked up near Southwest 199th Avenue and 228th Street after being on the lam for several alleged crimes after exiting prison in 2014. He crashed into a fence, jumped out of the car, and then police dogs sniffed him out.

What you might not remember is that when picked up by cops back in 1993 after a being slightly wounded in a hail of gunfire, he had a pipe bomb and enlarged photos of U.S. Marshals and Drug Enforcement Administration agents in the car.

Gonzalez was a star in Miami’s most tangled cocaine story, that of Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta, our own godfathers of coke.  His story was related in what might have been the best series of cocaine stories ever written in Miami. One part of it, “The Further Adventures of Willy and Sal” by Jim DeFede, was published right around the time he escaped police gunfire. Here is he opening of that story.

Mario Gonzalez was confident he would never be caught. Indicted in 1989 on federal charges of drug trafficking and weapons violations, he knew the cops were looking for him. He’d even seen his own picture on television, where he was described as a violent fugitive. But the 28-year-old Gonzalez never worried; he seemed to have a talent for staying one step ahead of the law. He’d move from hotel to hotel in Miami, never lingering too long in one place. As a further precaution, he equipped his red Chevy Blazer with a high-intensity spotlight mounted on the rear. The light was connected to an extension cord that ran up to the driver’s seat. In a pinch, Gonzalez could quickly plug it into the cigarette lighter. Anyone foolish enough to try following him would be temporarily blinded.

Gonzalez is much older than he was back then — over 50 — but apparently much wiser. He had a gun in the car, but didn’t fire it, according to the Miami Herald .

His arrest in 1993 scared the crap out of every federal agent involved in the drug fight. Back then, Willy and Sal were in jail and had contact with Gonzalez’s brother, Augusto. The feds suspected that he planned to kill all of the law enforcement types who might testify them at trial.

In the end, Gonzalez was convicted of drug and assault charges. Falcon spent most of a 20-year sentence in jail for money laundering and now awaits deportation.  Magluta got 205 years in prison.

As for Gonzalez, don’t expect to see him around town any time soon. Long ago, he compared himself to a Cuban political prisoner. Turns out that was a lousy comparison. 

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