'Cocaine cowboys' smuggler convicted in fraud case

2018-01-18 06:42
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Miami - A pilot who once smuggled tons of drugs for Colombian cartels during Miami's "cocaine cowboys" era in the 1980s was on Wednesday convicted of playing a key role in an auto fraud ring that stole at least 150 cars using a fake paper trail.

A federal jury found Mickey Munday, 72, guilty of mail fraud and conspiracy charges, each of which carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

Several others in the fraud ring previously pleaded guilty and testified against Munday, saying his role was transporting the cars and hiding them until they could be sold.

Bragged about exploits

Munday showed no emotion when the verdict was read and was taken immediately into custody. US District Judge Robert Scola set March 29 for sentencing. His defence team said he wasn't aware of the auto fraud.

All told, testimony showed the group stole about $1.7 million from banks and other lenders between 2008 and 2015. Some in the ring said Munday's colourful past as a big-time drug smuggler made him a natural fit for the operation.

Munday spent most of the 1990s in prison after pleading guilty to drug smuggling charges involving tons of cocaine from Pablo Escobar's Medellin cartel and also the Cali cartel during the 1980s. He frequently bragged about his exploits in media interviews, social media posts, and in a starring role in the 2006 documentary "Cocaine Cowboys".

"If it flies, rolls or floats, I can drive it," Munday has frequently said.

Assistant US Attorney Joshua Rothstein said Munday told investigators in an interview that the fraud operation was called the "hokey-doke scheme" and he was in charge of getting the vehicles to Florida from around the country.

False paper trail

"He was the head of the transportation division of the hokey-doke scheme," Rothstein said. "It was a scheme that stole cars with paper".

According to trial evidence, the scheme involved obtaining cars that were about to be repossessed by a bank or other financial institution or through purchases at dealerships by straw buyers. Using tow truck and auto wholesale businesses as fronts, the group created a false paper trail that ended with them having clear ownership of the vehicles, which they then sold at a profit.


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