One Of The Original Cocaine Cowboys Arrested After Miami Manhunt

By Kelly Burch 01/16/18

"Cocaine Cowboy" Mario Gonzalez was wanted for various crimes including health care fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud.

Mario Gonzalez
Mario Gonzalez

Mario Gonzalez, a former member of the Cocaine Cowboys, which flooded Miami with cocaine during the 1980s, was not going to go down without a fight. When authorities came after him last week, Gonzalez hopped on an all-terrain vehicle, carrying a handgun strong enough to pierce body armor and $36,000 in cash, and took off, leading authorities on a chase that involved helicopters and K-9 units. 

Ultimately, Gonzalez was taken into custody with the help of a K-9, which found him hiding in a brush pile. The dog brought the gangster’s four-year run from authorities to an end. 

“This guy was a very dangerous guy. He was one of the original ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ and did jail time before,” said U.S. Marshal Assistant Chief Manny Puri, according to 7 News Miami. “He eluded us before, in a car chase, going 120 miles an hour, and he was prepared, but we were more prepared this time.”

Gonzalez previously served prison time on drug charges and charges related to a shoot-out with police, according to The Miami Herald. This time he was wanted in New York to face charges of health care fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud, Local 10 News reported.

Federal marshals had been tracking Gonzalez for months, but when they moved to arrest him, the fugitive fled. He crashed his ATV into a fence while being pursued by armored vehicles, two helicopters and dozens of officers, and continued to run on foot. 

Puri said Gonzalez was “the most prepared-to-run fugitive I’ve ever seen.”

However, that preparation did little to help him when a K-9 found him hiding in the bushes and bit him, authorities said. He was brought into custody and is expected in federal court this week. 

Although the peak of the Miami drug wars may seem like a lifetime ago, authorities are still cracking down on the notorious gang responsible for importing tons of drugs into the city.

Last January federal authorities arrested Gustavo Falcon, 55 at the time, who had been on the run for 26 years. Authorities thought he had fled to South America, but Falcon had been living near Orlando all along. 

“Nobody thought he was in the United States,” Barry Golden, U.S. Marshals Service spokesman, said at the time. “He’s the last of the Cocaine Cowboys.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.