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Feds Announce Arrests of 3 Major Drug Fugitives

October 16, 1991

MIAMI (AP) _ Three fugitives charged with smuggling 75 tons of cocaine into the United States were being held today after federal agents arrested them and seized more than $1 million in cars, jewelry and cash.

Augusto Guillermo ″Willie″ Falcon is the alleged leader of a huge Miami- based smuggling ring the government says made $2.1 billion importing cocaine between 1987 and 1989. He was arrested in an affluent Fort Lauderdale area Tuesday night.

His alleged second-in-command, Salvador Magluta, and a third defendant, Lorenzo Orlando Benigno, were captured after agents surrounded a luxury Miami Beach home Tuesday night and fired tear gas into it, the U.S. Marshal’s Service said.

The three were indicted in April on charges that could put them in prison for life, said Jim Tassone, chief deputy U.S. marshal in Miami. At that time, some $14 million in assets were seized.

″They know how to make money in a hurry, but nobody said they were smart,″ Tassone said.

U.S. Magistrate Peter Palermo today ordered Benigno held pending another detention hearing Oct. 23. Magluta and Falcon were scheduled to appear before Palermo this afternoon.

All three will be tried before U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno on charges of possession with intent to distribute about 75 tons of cocaine. Falcon and Magluta also are charged with conducting a continuing criminal enterprise.

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