Spain's 'Miami Vicer' gets 150 years' jail
The Local · 30 Sep 2014, 15:58
Published: 30 Sep 2014 15:58 GMT+02:00
Madrid-born López Tardón was found guilty in June of laundering over $20 million (€14.7 million) of profits from his Spain-based cocaine empire by buying luxury properties and sports cars in the United States.
The 39-year-old head of a gang known as 'Los Miami' has now been handed a 150-year jail term. On top of that he will have to pay a fine of over $2 million and hand over properties and vehicles obtained from drug profits.
Details of López Tardón's personal spending spree were disclosed in the original detail with US District Attorney Tony Gonzales describing them as "mind-boggling".
The drug king bought 17 sports cars and almost $1 million on luxury Audemars Piguet watches.
His lawyer argued that the money had come from "legitimate businesses" in Spain, and cited Spanish tax records, according to US daily the Miami Herald. But jurors returned guilty verdicts on a conspiracy charge plus thirteen money-laundering charges at the end of the six-week trial.
"I call it funny money, and we have a plethora of funny money here," US. District Judge Joan Lenard said on Monday as she described López Tardón's use of cocaine proceeds from Spain to purchase exotic cars and waterfront condos.
"Miami is replete with people who utilize illegal funds and live a luxurious, unbelievable lifestyle," she was quoted as saying in the Miami Herald.
López Tardón was investigated and arrested by the FBI in 2011 after his priest was caught smuggling cash into Miami.
His former partner, David William Pollack, was a key witness for the prosecution and admitted smuggling cocaine into Spain from Peru while his former girlfriend admitted using cocaine profits to buy property. Both pleaded guilty in 2012.
Prosecutors revealed that López Tardón had threatened to kill his ex-wife in 2011 when she refused to help him extend his "green card" to retain US residency.
She testified against her former husband and told jurors that she had spent over $200,000 on plastic surgery.
Other alleged crimes committed by the drug baron included an attempt to murder a Spanish policeman in a nightclub in 2003, and ordering two "hits" on people in Spain.
López Tardón was a bad role model for small-time dope dealers, a US assistant attorney said in a pre-sentence hearing in mid-September, also describing the Spaniard as a "violent sociopath".
But the criminal's lawyer Richard Klugh said the "monster image does not pan out" and denied López Tardon had tried to kill his wife.
Klugh also questioned why his client was being tried in the US when he had never sold any drugs in the country. "He didn't sell any cocaine in the United States; he allegedly sold tonnes in Spain,” Klugh said at the mid-September hearing.
"He simply brought his money here, like so many criminals that have propped up South Florida's real estate market for years."