MIAMI – One of Miami's infamous "cocaine cowboy" drug dealers finishes a lengthy prison sentence this weekend but he won't be a free man.
Federal immigration officials say they will detain Augusto "Willie" Falcon when he is released Saturday from a Kentucky prison after serving most of a 20-year sentence. The Miami Herald reported Wednesday that authorities want to deport Falcon, 61, to his native Cuba.
The move comes as Falcon's younger brother, 55-year-old Gustavo "Taby" Falcon, was captured near Orlando in April after living as a fugitive under a fake name for 26 years. The younger Falcon faces life in prison if convicted of the 1991 indictment.
The Falcon brothers were part of a 1980s gang that smuggled an estimated 75 tons of cocaine valued at some $2 billion into the U.S. The top boss, Salvador "Sal" Magluta, is serving a 195-year sentence.
Augusto Falcon got a relatively light sentence after pleading guilty in 2003 rather than going to trial a second time. He and Magluta were acquitted after a first trial in 1996, but it turned out they had bought off jurors and witnesses. Magluta was convicted at his second trial.
One of Falcon's attorneys, Rick Diaz, said although U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials want to deport him, they'll still have to get the Cuban government to take him.
"I am certain that immigration is going to aggressively seek to deport him," Diaz said. "He did his time. He paid his debt to society. We're even."
Thousands of Cubans convicted of crimes that could trigger deportation have lived for years in the U.S. before the recent thaw in relations between the two countries. Now many face the possibility of removal to the communist island after President Barack Obama changed immigration policy regarding Cubans in January.
An ICE spokesman said the agency had an "immigration detainer" for Falcon that labels him a citizen of Cuba. Diaz said Falcon's family plans to hire an immigration lawyer to fight deportation, which ultimately would be decided by an immigration judge.
"The government has no evidence that he's a danger to the community. He was not convicted of a violent crime," Diaz said. "He lived the majority of his life here. He has nobody there."
The younger Falcon, meanwhile, pleaded not guilty last week to the drug trafficking charges and is being held without bail as he awaits trial.