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WELCOME TO CASABLANCA \

Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 15, 1986

Author/Byline: JOHN DORSCHNER is a Tropic staff writer. Tropic Staff Writer


Edition: FINAL
Section: TROPIC
Page: 12
Readability: 7-9 grade level (Lexile: 1070)
"Did you have a good night's sleep?" Louis the corrupt French policeman asks Victor Laszlo, the resistance leader.
"I slept very well," replies Laszlo.
"That's strange," says Louis. "Nobody is supposed to sleep very well in Casablanca."
-- Casablanca, the movie
"The amount of intrigue that goes on here is remarkable. . . . Miami really is not an American city."
-- Roy Black, criminal defense attorney
You are being watched.
It happens at large airports, in places like Los Angeles and New York. Local police and federal agents are stationed there, at the Miami
gate, waiting for you, watching. You are marked for their attention by the MIA ticket you hold.
The authorities don't demand that you go through customs; they don't ask for passports. They can't, because Miami is still technically part
of the United States. But the agents know it isn't, not really, not like Schenectady is part of New York. There is an invisible border between
Miami and the rest of the country, and these men are the border patrol.
Not an American city . . .
If you fit a certain "profile," you are one of the usual suspects: Young Latin male? Definitely bears watching. And that blue-rinsed lady who
walks with a cane? An innocent grandma, or a money-laundering "smurf"? You never know. Old folks make the best smurfs.
The agents are looking for money, not drugs. Greenbacks. The proceeds of dope deals. It happens all the time. Robert Targ, a Miami
defense attorney who frequently travels to Los Angeles, often sees federal agents -- agents he cross-examines in court -- at the Los
Angeles airport, watching the people who board the Delta red-eye special for Miami. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S.
Attorney's Office acknowledge that Miami passengers are being watched, though they say it doesn't happen on every flight.
Herb Friedberg, an undercover operative for the Internal Revenue Service, tells about the time he and an IRS agent had just finished
working a case in which they had seized $120,000. They were carrying the money back to Miami in an attache case. As the case moved
through the X-ray machine at LaGuardia, Friedberg saw a security clerk nod to a man standing nearby, and they were asked to stand in
another line. Ahead of them, police were already questioning a Colombian woman who had a satchel with $300,000 in cash and an
American man who claimed he was a jeweler and was carrying $60,000 in cash to Miami to purchase some jewels.
That was one flight.
"The Casablanca of the Caribbean." That's what the world press is calling Miami.
Funny how images change.
Five years ago, Miami was "Paradise Lost," branded for all the nation to see, right there on the cover of Time Magazine. We had become
the land of oppressive crime, runaway immigration, suffocating fear.
Look at us now. Awash in crime, still. Aswarm with immigrants. Aboil with fear. And we are . . . Casablanca. They call it exotic intrigue.
Romance. Multicultural excitement. This town has become a movie. Or more precisely: a TV show.
You can trace the image back four years, to the time that a television producer named Tony Yerkovich visited Miami. Yerkovich traveled
around the town with undercover agents and visited nightspots with "guys on the other side of the law." He heard about dope dealers, gun
smugglers, "propagandists for foreign governments," corrupt bank officials, exiled dictators and intelligence agents. Miami, he concluded,
was "a modern-day American Casablanca."

Miami-Casablanca: The idea had been floating around since the '60s, mostly cropping up in minor magazine pieces, but Yerkovich was
able to convert his vision into truly pop culture. His Miami Vice had banal dialogue and trite plots, but the show achieved a certain look, a
feel. Suddenly the show was "hot."
Hordes of out-of-town journalists -- from the London Mail, Sacramento Bee, Paris Match, Dayton Daily News -- have been descending
upon Miami, intent upon finding the . . . real story. "There had to be a hundred people doing 'the real Miami Vice,' " says Billy Yout,
spokesman for the Miami office of the
Drug Enforcement Administration, who was interviewed by most of them.
When a Norwegian newsman suddenly showed up and asked an undercover Metro agent if he could follow him around for a day, the
agent asked if Norway was about to start broadcasting Miami Vice. Yes, said the newsman, how did you know?
And so it is that images and reality tend to mix and blend, until they are one.
The production crew for Miami Vice needs a backdrop for a car scene. So they take an abandoned gas station beside the Omni and paint
it a vivid lavender-and-green. Then they add a massive wall mural, with pelicans and a dude in sunglasses.
On TV, the outside of the gas station appears for less than 15 seconds, representing a sports-car repair shop during the episode about
the Grand Prix. It came and went.
So did the Miami Vice crew, on to fashioning other backdrops for other scenes. And in Miami, the empty gas station remains -- a
permanent splash of color in the city, Miami imitating Miami Vice, life imitating art.
Remember a car mechanic named Frank Pugliese (in reality), who drives up in a black Corvette made to look like a Daytona Spyder
Ferrari -- the very car used on the TV show (for the myth) -- and (for real) he tries to sell an illegal machine gun to two guys he thinks are
dopers -- except they're undercover agents, doing a sting (for real), just like Crockett and Tubbs do in the myth. Go to jail, Frank (for real).
Remember the parade at the Miami Grand Prix? Before the big race, they had a collection of fancy cars -- Ferraris and Rolls- Royces and
Porsches and a rare Jaguar that is not yet offered for sale in this country -- that paraded around the track. But what led the parade was a
cheap black Corvette (in reality)
because it was the car from the myth.
And remember Jose Yero, the big-time doper whose nickname was Coca-Cola? Here he was, a Mariel refugee doper (for real), and on
the wall of his palatial doper's house was a poster of Al Pacino, as Scarface, the (mythical) big-time Mariel doper. Another photo showed
Jose with his face pressed into a mound of white powder, just like Scarface did in the movie.
HOW STRANGE IS IT? PART I
As the phrase goes, only in Miami. Consider the reality:
Miami is home to the world's foremost arms merchant, a Lebanese named Sarkis Soghanalian, sometimes referred to as "the merchant of
death."
Miami is home to Gustavo Alvarez, former strongman of Honduras. When he was in charge of the Honduran armed forces, the military
was thought to have assassinated or "disappeared" 200 people.
Miami is home to four of the five Watergate burglars.
Miami is home for Enrique Altamirano, editor of El Diario de Hoy, a leading newspaper in El Salvador. Because of threats against him and
his family, Altamirano stays in Dade, editing his newspaper by computer.
Miami is the home of relatives of the hemisphere's most notorious deposed dictatorships. The brother and widow of former Nicaraguan
strongman Anastasio Somoza live here. So do relatives of the Batista clan that once ruled Cuba. And relatives of the Trujillo family of the
Dominican Republic.
Only in Miami:
-- Jeff Weiner, a top defense attorney, is so worried that federal agents or other folks might attempt to peek into his files, that he has his
office protected by motion detectors: devices that set off alarms when they detect the slightest movement in a room. It is the kind of
security measure usually reserved for protecting crown jewels.
-- The night clerk at the Howard Johnson's Motel near the airport was for a while giving "freedom fighter" discounts for people smuggling
goods to the contras.
-- The City of Miami declared an Orlando Bosch Day, for the "patriot" accused of bombing the Cubana Airlines flight that killed 73 in 1976.

-- A group of impoverished Nicaraguan refugees in Little Havana live in an apartment house that they have bleakly named El Maleficio.
Translation: "building of the damned."
-- More than 3,000 Colombian citizens are registered to vote in Dade and Broward County -- registered to vote, that is, in the Colombian
presidential election. They vote here at one of two "precincts" -- the consulate office in Miami, or the one in Fort Lauderdale.
-- The top elected official from the Turks and Caicos Islands was arrested in Miami on dope charges. So was a high- ranking officer in the
Surinamese army. So was a colonel in the Venezuelan national guard, who hoped to use the money to finance a coup d'etat in
Guatemala. Earlier this year, a group of businessmen was tried in Miami, accused of smuggling drugs to finance the assassination of the
president of Honduras. Government bugs discovered that the conspiracy had been discussed in English, Spanish, French, German,
Arabic and Armenian.
-- The most controversial development project -- Watson Island -- was torpedoed by a right-wing newspaper editor who made a phone call
from Alaska to a former United Nations ambassador, charging that one of the project's investors had links to the commies.
-- Thousands of Nicaraguans fleeing communism settled in a village called Sweetwater that was founded decades ago by a group of
Russian midgets.
"VOLVEREMOS"
"Waiting, waiting, waiting," says the man morosely over a drink at Rick's. "I'll never get out of here. I'll die in Casablanca.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, amid guns and bayonets and Budweisers, men in camouflage fatigues were mingling with women in hair
curlers. The event was the annual "open house" for Brigade 2506, the veterans' organization for the Cubans who stormed the beaches at
the Bay of Pigs 25 years ago.
At the entrance to their 10-acre training camp, a mile west of the county dump, a wooden sentry tower was manned by a uniformed guy
cradling a semi-automatic AR-15 and inspecting the arriving visitors. More men in camouflage -- some with their faces painted green -waved cars down a sandy road to the parking area.
Inside, hidden in the saw grass and scrub brush, a loudspeaker was set up, a target range, a tower for practicing rappelling and
parachuting.
More than a hundred cars were parked in the grassy sand. People sat on benches under tents, drinking beer and hugging old comrades,
swapping stories about the old days. From paper plates, they ate chicken and yucca and pork.
Twenty-five years after their ill-fated invasion of Cuba, Brigade 2506 has become a power in local politics and fund- raising. (It collected
$18,000 recently through Radio Mambi for boots, uniforms and food supplies for the contras.) But mostly the organization looks like an
Hispanic outpost of the American Legion. A couple of years ago, in fact, the brigade petitioned Congress in a futile effort to receive U.S.
veterans' benefits, just like any other wing of the American military.
The craving for combat, however, remains unabated for some of the veterans, as Fico Rojas explained during the open house. "We are
the Freedom Fighters," he said proudly.
A trim, gray-haired man, Rojas said that he runs training exercises at this camp every weekend. He looked up at the three flagpoles.
American, Cuban and Nicaraguan flags were fluttering in the brisk wind.
"Each time a country goes Communist," he said, shaking his head, "when its people come to Miami, you will see another flag. A
Salvadoran flag. A Guatemalan flag. A Honduran flag. Each for people trying to free their country."
About 2,000 persons have gone through "our training" at the camp in the past six years, he said, including many Nicaraguans who have
gone to Central America to fight with the contras. "Some," he said matter-of-factly, "have already died."
Now, 50 or so come each weekend. There are a few old- timers, but most are teen-agers. "We want to get young people into our system.
. . . They want the training."
Though Castro has been firmly in power for a quarter of a century, Rojas and friends still dream of his overthrow. "We are still waiting for
the United States to give basic support to us. . . . If they give $100 million to the Nicaraguans to free their country, they should be giving
the same thing to liberate Cuba. . . . It doesn't matter how many years it will be as long as you still believe it can be done. We won't give
up."
"Remember," says Mario Roque de Escobar, who was wearing a sporty yellow scarf with his camouflage uniform, "hope is the last thing
you lose. . . . We're still here, and we must try to hand the torch to the young people."
Off in one corner, a Nicaraguan was selling blue contra T- shirts ($4) and blue contra baseball caps ($4), plus $1 bumper stickers that

said: "Viva Cristo Rey, Viva Nicaragua, Volveremos."


Hooray for Jesus Christ. Hooray for Nicaragua. We shall return.
We shall return -- for years, that had been the battle cry of the Miami Cubans. Now here it was again, cropping up on the lips and bumper
stickers of the Nicaraguans.
Volveremos.
Sitting off by themselves were two teen-age boys, in fatigues, with green-painted faces. Both have been coming to the camp on
weekends for the training.
"It's fun," said Ernesto Helms, a young Cuban-American, "and it shows you how to survive." He announced that soon he planned to join
the Navy.
The American Navy.
TROPIC'S MALL REPORTS
OR: THE COIN DROPPERS
It's quite easy to see a drug deal happening in South Florida. They're going on all around you, especially if you live in the southern
suburbs. All you have to do is know what to look for.
Many dopers still deck themselves out in gold, with the Rolex watch and the Porsche convertible. But others, realizing the stereotypes,
are toning themselves down when they go out working.
"Colombians are not overdressed," says Detective Marty Heckman, who -- like Belker on Hill Street Blues -- spends much of his time
"hanging out," usually in Kendall shopping centers. "They're suave but not flashy. They like color-coordinated clothes -- if they have gray
slacks, they'll have gray shoes. They're all like 5-8, 145-150 . . . beeper on the hip. And they linger by the pay phones, with expensive little
black books with all sorts of codified numbers."
The beeper -- usually the digital-readout kind -- is their tool of the trade, such a giveaway that some dopers have started hiding theirs in
ankle holsters.
Dope deals are always fluid, perhaps a dozen conversations and meetings, none of which lasts more than five minutes. Doper one beeps
doper two to call him at a pay phone. Doper two does so, from another pay phone. Beeper to beeper, pay phone to pay phone, calls
virtually impossible to trace.
"Coin droppers," detectives like Heckman call them. Men who spend their days hanging around pay phones, usually in Kendall,
because that's where most dopers live, and because they often are carrying considerable amounts of cash and they feel more certain
they won't run into a random mugger in staid Kendall.
"Miller Square used to be a mecca for them," says Detective Heckman. "At 137th and Miller. But then the uniformed officers started
hanging out there in the green and whites, and 'they scared the fish from the bay.' "
Billy Yout at DEA says dopers also like the bank of pay phones beside the Winn-Dixie in the Midway Mall center. Sometimes agents have
seen dopers three deep at the phones, waiting for an available line. Dadeland is popular, and the Falls, and gas-station/convenience
stores -- any pay phone where there is a large field of view, so that the dopers can check to see if they're being observed.
If you want to spend a little time, you can watch a deal taking place, or at least part of the negotiations. Look for luxury cars -- say, a
Mercedes -- parked beside a Kendall pay phone. Or a rental car (rental cars have license-plate numbers beginning with Z), because
there's a trend for dopers to seek the anonymity of a bland Oldsmobile rental.
What you see would go something like this scene, witnessed by a journalist on a weekday afternoon:
On Southwest 117th Avenue, a little north of Sunset Drive, a two-tone Lincoln was parked in front of a Farm Store. At a pay phone, a man
was dressed casually, in black boots, nondesigner jeans, a loose-fitting Hawaiian shirt. He was wearing a subdued gold-and-steel watch
that appeared to be a $1,500 Concord model. He was chatting in a slow, dignified Spanish, using the formal "usted" manner of address.
When the journalist approached and picked up the adjoining pay phone, the man spoke quickly and hung up. A minute later, a beige
Mercedes appeared. The Lincoln man walked over and slid into the passenger seat in front.
The Mercedes drove across the street. Three minutes later, it was back, and Mr. Lincoln climbed out, said goodbye to Mr. Mercedes and
drove off in his own car.

The "meet" was over.


"That's a perfect profile of a narcotics meet," said Metro narcotics specialist Reddington, when told of the meeting. "That is so common,
around any shopping mall in Dade County. More so in the southwest, but it happens all over. . . . It doesn't take a sixth grade education to
see that he's not playing the stock market."
There is no denying it. In Miami-Casablanca, drug smuggling permeates everything. It distorts, influences, corrupts. Politicians get linked
with drugs. So do anti-Castro commandos and Nicaraguan contras. The U.S. government says it has evidence that Cuban Communists
and the Sandinistas have helped smuggle cocaine on its way to Miami.
Despite massive government efforts to curtail smuggling, more and more cocaine keeps getting through. In the past five years, the price
of a kilo has plummeted from $60,000 to the low 20s. Cocaine, once restricted to the decadent rich, is becoming popular and affordable
for the black underclass.
Recently, because of the federal task force assembled in South Florida to combat the smugglers, Colombians are tending to ship their
cocaine through other cities. Even so, agents believe, the top smugglers will continue living here.
"This is the only place they can go without being noticed," says Billy Yout of DEA. "Imagine five Colombians having a meeting in a Boston
restaurant, gold all over themselves, $10,000 Rolex watches, talking in Spanish, all of them arriving in their separate Mercedeses and
BMWs and Porsches. By the time they left, the Boston police, the FBI, the DEA would all be there to pick them up. . . .
"In Boston, there are traditional organized crime figures in drug trade, but they couldn't compare with a low-level drug dealer in Miami. . . .
Unfortunately, you have hundreds of people, largely Hispanic, in Miami who traffic in one, two, three kilos a week. . . . Say they do a deal
a week, three kilos, making a profit of $10,000 a kilo, so that's $30,000 a week. That's $1.5 million a year. And that's a small dealer."
THE CAR
South Florida leads the nation in something else: the gray market. Gray market can be any kind of good -- perfume, electronics,
cameras -- that was imported in a way that, basically, the manufacturer never intended. Consider that the Japanese electronics
manufacturers generally charge American wholesale companies more than they charge, say, Latin American wholesalers, based on the
old-fashioned capitalistic notion of extracting the highest price a market will bear.
Now, some enterprising American importers have found they can save money by going to Latin America and purchasing goods intended
for the Latin market. There's nothing necessarily sinister about this: The importers save money, their customers save money. Big time
corporations like K mart do it all the time.
In South Florida, the biggest gray market involves foreign cars. It works like this: A small American company goes to Europe and buys a
Mercedes that has not been modified to meet American pollution and safety requirements. The company imports the car, modifies it (or at
least makes a few minimum modifications so that the car appears to meet requirements), and then sells it. A new gray-market Mercedes
may save a purchaser $7,000 over the price of a "regular" Mercedes.
Usually, a customer is aware that he is buying a gray- market car, and he knows it will not have the traditional Mercedes warranty. But
there may be problems that the gray- market customer does not expect: If not all the required modifications have been made (such as
reinforced bars in the doors), police can seize the vehicle; just as troublesome, many European models have engines and parts not
available in the United States, meaning that it's hard to get repairs made; and some engines have not been adjusted to the higher octane
ratings of American gasoline.
One recent afternoon, a journalist visited L.P. Evans, owner of L.P. Evans Mercedes Benz. Evans said that his business has changed
since government regulations began requiring that car dealers report any cash purchase of more than $10,000. The requirement stopped
about 90 percent of cash purchases, he explained, because legitimate car dealers like himself are scrupulous in following the law.
Without exactly saying it, Evans was suggesting that small, gray-market dealers may not be so ethical: Dopers wanting to pay cash might
be going to them for their Mercedes.
His statement seemed self-serving, until Evans took his visitor back into the garage area, to see if any one had brought in a gray-market
car with repair problems. He found one, a virtually new 300 SEL, black with green curtains in the rear
windows. The engine hadn't been adjusted for American fuel, and after only 20,000 miles, holes had been burned in the center of all six
pistons. The engine was not a kind sold in the United States; it would take several months for a replacement to arrive
from Germany, at a cost of $8,000 or so.
Evans and the journalist looked inside the car. On the
console between the seats was a plastic cup; it was filled with .22-caliber bullets.
THE GOOD NEWS, PART I

OR: WHY IT'S HIGHLY UNLIKELY THAT YOU'LL BE MURDERED WHILE READING THIS STORY
OK, the statistics are still awful: Dade County continues to have the highest murder rate in the country. Even so, your changes of being
murdered are only 4,200 to 1.
They're even less if you're an upstanding citizen. One third of Dade murders are drug related. Another third are outgrowths of street
arguments or domestic disputes.
So if you don't deal dope, don't have a murderous spouse, and don't get into shouting matches with strangers, your chances of getting
bumped off are pretty much the same here as in other cities.
HOW STRANGE IS IT? PART II
OR: WHY MIAMI VICE IS A DULL IMITATION OF REAL LIFE
It looks like a typical shopping center, there at the corner of Southwest 107th Avenue and North Kendall Drive: a Publix supermarket, a
few nice shops and a Hardee's restaurant, where a sign hangs in the window: Three new 1/4 lb. burgers.
You might think you're in suburbia. Actually, you're in the midst of Miami-Casablanca. An unmarked door in the shopping complex is an
office for the Nicaraguan contras, but that has nothing to do with what happened in the parking lot one recent afternoon.
Over on the wooden benches by the Publix automatic teller, detective Marty Heckman was lounging around, hoping to catch a pervert
who had been exposing himself to schoolchildren. But Heckman can't help noticing these young Latin males lurking near the coin phones,
beepers on their hips, pacing back and forth
from the phones to the Hardee's.
Heckman smelled a dope deal in progress.
Meanwhile, out in the center of the parking lot, totally unaware of what was happening by the pay phones, Mario Rovirosa, a special
agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), was meeting with a Hialeah doper. Rovirosa showed the doper a cheap
attache case. Inside was $230,000 in 100- dollar bills. The doper took a quick count of the money and promised to return with 10 kilos of
cocaine.
As Rovirosa waited in the Lincoln, something began happening over by the pay phones. A Hispanic woman approached and chatted with
the two men. All three walked to a car. The men opened the trunk and handed the woman a box. The men drove away; the woman
carried the box across the parking lot.
Heckman knew he was supposed to wait for the pervert, but this was too good to pass up. He dashed across the parking lot, caught up
with the woman and asked what was in the box. She said she didn't know; she'd just found it in the parking lot.
They looked in the box. There was a huge stack of cash, mostly $20 bills.
Heckman called headquarters and told them he had just found a "mule" -- a drug courier -- being paid off. Squad cars began arriving,
lights flashing.
From the center of the parking lot, agent Rovirosa panicked when he saw the squad cars. He was certain his Hialeah doper would be
scared off by all the cops. Rovirosa raced to the pay phone and dialed the doper's beeper number. A short time later, the doper called him
back. Rovirosa warned him that life was getting nasty in the parking lot. They arranged to meet at a nearby bar.
Only in Miami could such an astounding event have happened: On a quiet weekday afternoon, in the middle of suburbia, parts of two
different dope deals had been happening simultaneously in the same bland shopping center.
The outcome: Metro had to let the woman leave with her cash; she had no drugs on her. The FDLE ended up finishing its deal in Hialeah,
where it made its arrests.
And, oh yes, when things calmed down, Heckman caught his pervert in the act.
GOOD NEWS, PART II
OR: "LOUIS, I THINK THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP"
The movie Casablanca was dealing with a dreadful reality -- the Nazis taking over Europe. The subject was a natural "downer," as they
say in show-biz. Yet the movie with the brooding Bogart and the doe-eyed Bergman somehow left us with a romantic afterglow.
So does Miami seem to be prospering in its perversity. Miami has it made. Consider that we have a nationwide television show examining

our ugliest elements -- a show with a title incorporating the word "vice" -- and yet we end up looking . . . fashionable.
Since the advent of Miami Vice, Letterman and Donahue and CBS Morning News have all dropped by for an upbeat look at Miami. They
boost the image -- and the economy. Altogether, movie makers and advertising agencies are pumping about $80 million a year into the
city, just so they can give the folks back home a glimpse of glitz and guns. Many of them call up the Metro film liaison office and ask for
locations that "look like Miami Vice."
The irony is that, in the midst of this infatuation with our "vice," there are some hopeful signs. Most members of Omega 7 -- the Cuban
terrorist group -- are now in jail or silenced. And many of the new immigrant groups -- the Nicaraguans, the Haitians, the Salvadorans -have blended into Miami without causing any real problems.
As Art Nerhbass of Dade's Organized Crime Bureau wanly puts it: "From a law-enforcement standpoint, these groups haven't materially
affected our workload."
Meaning foreigners don't necessarily beget crime.
Meaning most of us folks are getting along just fine.
In fact, most places you look, the cultures seem to be blending quite well with each other these days.
Look at the Dade School system, which now contains children
from 114 different countries.
Look at that most American of institutions -- a McDonald's restaurant. Go to the McDonald's at Southwest 97th Avenue and Sunset Drive,
and you'll find a glass-enclosed case containing tiny flags from 17 countries -- each representing the homeland of an employee who has
worked at this McDonald's in the heart of suburbia. There are flags from Turkey, Chile, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Ecuador, the
United States, Pakistan, South Korea, India, Cuba, Israel, Puerto Rico, Thailand, El Salvador, Honduras and Italy.
Listen to Mercedes Sandoval, anthropologist and longtime observer of Miami's cultural mix. Ask her if we're better off than we were in
1980, the year of the Mariel boatlift and the Liberty City riots. "Definitely," she will tell you, "1980 was a brutal year. We don't give
ourselves enough credit for assimilating 125,000 refugees in five months. That was a massive migration. . . . Things are becoming more
settled. A lot of it has to do with the image. . . . (The media) perceive Miami differently than in the early '80s, and . . . I think Miamians are
changing their image of Miami. It's less of a threat, less rigidity, from all points of view."
Miamians, in other words, feel better about themselves
because they have survived the worst.
MEET JEFF FERRY, JOURNALIST
One day after participating in a raid by Metro cops on a coke house, Jeff Ferry, energetic young reporter for the Daily Mail of London,
agreed to have lunch with a Miami journalist.
"It was absolutely fantastic, you know," he said about the raid. "Just like you see on television. We have nothing like that in London."
Jeff had sold his editors on a story with a theme: "The real Miami Vice is that the cops are all crooked."
But upon his arrival in Miami, someone had recommended that he hook up with Dennis Reddington, the Metro undercover agent who had
been featured in Life Magazine and other publications.
Reddington had taken Jeff and his photographer on a raid of a coke house. The raid team included a dozen cop cars, a SWAT team and
a backup ambulance waiting for the wounded.
"I was very, very impressed. . . . I saw more guns drawn than I've ever seen before -- and I've been to El Salvador. . . .
"There was no way Scotland Yard would allow a journalist to go out on anything like this. I was pleased and grateful and impressed. And
that raid is going to be most of my story. . . . I don't know if I'll get into the corruption at all. We got these terrific photos of rifles and all
that."
The raid Ferry went on was so minor, by Miami standards, it didn't even rate a mention in the newspaper.
LISTENING IN ON DOPE DEALS
If you have a shortwave radio, you can hear the dopers' communications, usually just above the amateur 20-meter band, around 14.405
on the dial. They use code of course, talking with the slow, dignified lilts of the Colombian accent, calling each other by nicknames like
Flaco (Skinny) and Gordo (Fats), chatting about the times and sizes of their shipments of what they usually call mercancia --

merchandise -- between Bogota and Miami.


DANGEROUS TOYS
It's the kind of place you hear about from defense attorneys, folks who associate with Colombians and police detectives: a small house at
1435 Brickell Ave. that serves as the offices of Communication Control Systems of Florida, Inc.
Inside the front door you find a small showroom, with basic security apparatus -- MACE sprayers, binoculars, that kind of thing. Only if the
salesman thinks you are a "serious customer" will he open a door and lead you into a second room, where the real stuff is kept.
There you find the little items that run into thousands of
dollars, though manager Ed Sklar refuses to divulge exact prices. Want a video camera hidden in a book? They've got it. Along with
bulletproof vests, scramblers for car telephones, bomb detectors, metal detectors, and tiny tape recorders in a number of disguises. One
nifty little device allows you to start your car from a safe distance, in case you suspect that someone has planted a bomb. The most
expensive doohickeys -- with prices running into the tens of thousands of dollars -- are computers contained in suitcases that can detect
whether your phone line is being tapped.
The nastiest item is a little black box called the EJ-10 Bug Alert. It's about half the size of a pack of cigarettes, just right for fitting in your
pants pocket. If you're in a room with someone who is transmitting a radio signal, the EJ-10 vibrates quietly, warning you without revealing
anything to the person you're talking to.
"That happens to be my best seller," Sklar says proudly.
It would come in handy, of course, for those people who worry that they are dealing with undercover agents, because agents often wear
hidden transmitters to "meets." It doesn't take much imagination to see that the EJ-10 -- a perfectly legal device -- could very easily get an
agent killed.
But that's not the concern of Communication Control Systems.
Most customers, says manager Sklar, "don't divulge who they are. . . . We don't pry. We're here to serve people and protect their privacy."
THE LITTLEST CONTRA
Out on the edge of the Everglades, west of Homestead, in an ordinary two-story suburban house, you can see the bitter fruits of the war
being waged between the contras and the Sandinistas. It is here that a dozen or so wounded combatientes are housed.
The obscure location was chosen because it was out in the countryside, as similar as possible to the isolated Nicaraguan villages where
these soldiers grew up. They were brought here by the Fundacion de Nicaragua, a nonprofit group that has been the center of news
reports because it receives funding from the U.S. Congress. Exactly how much has been spent on assisting these young combatientes
has become a matter of earnest and considerable debate.
All have head wounds requiring complicated operations, operations that cannot be performed in the Honduran camps where the contras
huddle between campaigns. Some of the soldiers have plastic tubing welded to their jaws, or braces under their nonexistent chins. Most
are young men, with gaunt bodies and watchful eyes.
Six cots are crammed into a room. Amid the wall-to-wall carpeting, they sit, they wait, they watch television, and wait some more. Once or
twice a week, a van takes them into town for medical treatment.
The youngest of the wounded has a bedroom to herself, with a padlock: She is Lydia Maura, 15 years old, a tiny child who would have a
pretty face if her upper left cheek bone and eye had not been shot away. A series of operations over four months have repaired as much
as they can, and now she wears an artificial eye.
She speaks in halting sentences.
Was she really a soldier with the contras?
"Si," she says. "Combatiente."
How long has she been here?
"Four months."
Does she want to go back?
"Yes," she says firmly. "To free my country. The operations -- that's the only reason I'm here."

She is frail and confused, a woman-child whose life has become a horror, a teen-ager who seems to escape into fantasy or fall into
nightmare. She tells different stories at different times. She has said that she and her brother joined the contras after another brother was
grabbed out of a movie theater by the Sandinistas and forced to join the Sandinista army. She has said that the Sandinistas slaughtered
her entire family in front of her, and left her for dead. She has said she protected her wounded eye by putting mud packs on it. She has
said her family was murdered and she was taken away by the Sandinistas, who brutalized her. She has said that she has had a child by a
comandante in the contras, and she shows a photo of the child to prove it.
Her room is as jumbled as her mind: Plastic dolls cover the bed. A cage holds three parakeets. On the wall are photos of rock stars and a
bumper sticker: SUPPORT NICARAGUAN FREEDOM FIGHTERS.
In one corner was a saying:
Vale Mas Fracasar Por Obtener Un Triunfo Que Dejar de Triunfar Por Temor a Fracasar.
It is better to fail trying to achieve victory than to lose the chance of victory for fear of failure.
SNITCHES
"You despise me, don't you?" Peter Lorre asked Bogie.
"Oh," said Bogie, "if I gave you any thought, I probably would."
Casablanca had Peter Lorre, a conniving little turncoat always willing to trade his loyalty for a piece of change. In Miami, informants are a
cottage industry, and they're a necessity for almost all investigations of dopers.
Here is Tropic's top 5. As with Peter Lorre, many of them have met pathetic ends.
1 -- Monkey Morales. A double agent, sometimes a triple agent, he worked at various times for Castro's intelligence service, for the CIA,
for the Venezuelan secret police, for the FBI. He informed on drug dealers while continuing to deal drugs on his own. Claimed he helped
in the 1976 bombing of the Cubana Airlines flight. Killed in a barroom fight, 1982.
2 -- Mario Escandar. Coke dealer, flimflam artist, informant, he used so much cocaine that his septum was destroyed, and he used to
amaze acquaintances by sticking his finger between his nostrils. Was the main witness in the sensational corruption trial of eight ex-cops.
Still in jail.
3 -- Barry Seal. A former TWA pilot whom the feds "turned" after he was busted on smuggling charges, he was responsible for the
conviction of the chief minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Had been scheduled to testify against members of the most notorious
Colombian smuggling group, the Ochoa family. Assassinated in Lousiana, Feb. 19, 4 -- Elsa Gutierrez. Called a "sex spy" in newspaper
stories of the mid-'70s, she worked undercover for the Internal Revenue Service, dating and drinking with top politicians, judges and
lawyers in an operation to uncover tax evaders. The investigation wilted in the light of harsh publicity.
5 -- Ronald Braswell. Responsible for a host of drug convictions in an elaborate sting set up by investigators of the State Attorney's Office,
he really made his reputation because of a terrific nickname: "the Video Canary," based on the fact that much of his work was observed
by hidden TV cameras.
THE GUN
Meet the Mac-10, Miami's weapon of choice. It's a submachine gun the size of a pistol, small enough to fit in a holster under your arm,
light enough (a mere six pounds) to be fired one-handed from a speeding car (as "El Loco" Ruiz once did during a running gun battle on
the Florida Turnpike). In its automatic version, the Mac-10 fires so rapidly that it could shoot a football team's starting offense, its starting
defense, the punter, the place kicker and the top half-dozen subs -- in two seconds flat. With a well-made silencer, it makes no more
noise than a loud electric typewriter.
"This is the tool of the trade," says Daniel Conroy, Miami head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. "Protect the stashes, get
even on ripoffs, get rid of a competitor. . . . This brand of criminal has a flair for the dramatic -- and a tendency to shoot indiscriminately. It
doesn't take a whole lot of marksmanship to use this gun."
Fully automatic weapons and silencers are illegal, but the Mac-10 was designed as a cheap ($300 or so) semi-automatic that could be
easily converted to automatic, and its barrel is threaded, supposedly for a flash suppresser, though the threads are perfect for homemade
silencers.
The feds banned the manufacture of the gun some years ago, but it is widely available in the black market. Fully automatic, with silencer
and the serial numbers drilled off, it costs $2,000 to $2,500.
THE WATCH

Woman at Rick's Cafe, looking earnestly at a gems merchant who is examining her jewelry: "But can't you make it just a little more?"
"Sorry, madam," says the merchant, "but diamonds are a drug on the market. Everybody sells diamonds. There are diamonds
everywhere."
Item: Jose Yero, a.k.a. "Coca-Cola," gets arrested for cocaine smuggling, and agents find that he has more than 50 Rolex watches, a
dozen of them color-coordinated to match his wardrobe.
Your real Miami-Casablanca character -- a guy who's going to stand out above the crowd -- needs a Rolex. The only question is what kind.
Your tasteless nouveau type might load up one with diamonds, rubies, sapphires -- for a price of $48,000 or so, give or take a few
baubles.
Your macho guy who doesn't want to be too ostentatious may go for a more subdued model -- like the Rolex GMT Master, its body carved
from a solid block of gold, self-winding, waterproof to a depth of 330 feet. Price: $9,450.
THE DEAD BABY PROBLEM
It's not so much that visiting journalists exaggerate reality as they don't really understand precisely how bizarre Miami is.
Consider the problem with the "dead baby" story. Life Magazine fell for it. So did The Washington Post. You know the tale: people so
desperate to smuggle drugs that they will insert packets of cocaine into the corpse of an infant.
Well, not only is the story an unsubstantiated rumor, but it shows that the writer who falls for it has no concept of what Miami is really
about. Because -- to be clinical for a moment -- the most cocaine that might be stuffed inside a baby's corpse would be four or five
pounds. An amount too small for any serious doper to risk getting arrested for. The average load now is running hundreds of pounds.
A dead baby? No way.
"Maybe," says a Customs official, "a dead elephant."
JUAN WONG: FROM CASABLANCA TO SWEETWATER
In his wheelchair, he sat at a table in the back of his restaurant: Juan Wong -- a mouthful of a multiethnic name, a Chinese-Nicaraguan,
co-owner (with two Somoza relatives) of Los Ranchos, the "only four-star Nicaraguan restaurant in Miami," as he has boasted.
Juan told his family story: His father had come from China, seeking his fortune in America, and he hadn't quite understood that there was
a difference between America, the country, and America, the continent, and a freighter had dropped him off in Bluefields, a Nicaraguan
port, where he found a job as a waiter at a club called Casablanca.
The father prospered and Juan, at age 11, was sent off to San Francisco to attend school. Juan ended up with a bachelors degree from
the University of San Francisco.
Young Juan returned to Nicaragua and went into business. The business did well, but the Managua earthquake of '72 wiped him out.
Juan joined the Nicaraguan National Guard, becoming an aide to Gen. Jose Somoza, brother of the dictator. He fought in the bitter civil
war with the Sandinistas. When the dynasty collapsed, Juan found himself in Miami with $8,000.
He opened a tiny cafeteria in Little Havana. The cafeteria prospered. With his Somoza partners, Juan moved out to a Sweetwater
shopping center, expanding to a 55-seat restaurant. The new place did very well, and they expanded again, to 200 seats.
Life, said Juan Wong, had been very good to him.
He had told his life's story, but he hadn't mentioned the wheelchair. Finally, his visitor asked: Had he been shot and crippled during the
Civil War?
No, Juan Wong said. He was confined to the wheelchair only recently. It had happened one evening, when he escorted his girlfriend back
to her apartment. They had gone inside, and a man with a gun had hopped out of the closet.
The intruder demanded that Juan lock himself in the bathroom, which seemed stupid. Juan refused, and the guy asked him to lie down on
the floor. Juan argued. The gun was a cheap Saturday night special. In an instant, Juan calculated that the caliber was so small that he
could rush the guy. He figured he could take a shot in the arm or shoulder and still tackle him.
Juan rushed. The intruder fired. The bullet richoeted off Juan's shoulder -- "like those cartoons where the bullet hits a rock, and then
bounces off a bucket and then ricochets off a couple of other things" -- and ended up nicking the edge of Juan's spinal cord, paralyzing
him from the waist down.

"The irony of it, eh?" he said to his visitor, smiling. "I think life is a train going among stations. There was the
college station, the earthquake station, the war, coming to Miami, building up the business. You just have to live life to the fullest. I think
about the thousand and one things I can do, not the thousand things I can't do."
THE THREE MONKEYS PHILOSOPHY
Jim Dingfelder, spokesman for the federal task force trying to stem the dope trade, likes to put it this way: "I was quoted in Rolling Stone
some time back, as saying that if by some miracle we could end this drug problem overnight, law enforcement people would suddenly be
the bad guys."
These days, Dingfelder avoids being quite so sweeping in his indictment of Miami, but he will say, "There's a side to the community that is
not above reaping the benefits from the drug trade."
Actually, just about everyone here -- directly or indirectly -- profits from the dope trade. Robert Targ, defense attorney, tools around town
in his Mercedes, thanks to his speciality in recovering property seized from accused dopers. So you can say he owes his living to the
dope trade. But, then, half of the work of the U.S. Attorney's office is drug related. So if all dope traffic was stopped -- or, conversely, if
dope were legalized -- you could argue that half the federal prosecutors would lose their jobs. And, indeed, there wouldn't be a need for
several federal judges either.
Then again, anytime a doper brings in his load, he's likely to buy a new house, a couple of cars, a Rolex watch, some burglar alarms
(can't be too careful). Within a few days, he's spread his new-found dope wealth among a half dozen businesses, which turn around and
buy more goods, hire more employees. And so the dope money percolates through the Dade economy.
It may be a mainstay of the Dade economy. Last year, at the Miami branch of the Federal Reserve, $6 billion more in cash came in than
went out. The cash is coming from somewhere. Tourists may bring some of it in (though most use credit cards these days). Legitimate
Latin businessmen may bring more, but there is still an enormous chunk unaccounted for.
As Dingfelder says, "If this doesn't have anything to do with drugs, it's a hell of a coincidence."
It's the top-of-the-line goods that get bought the most. Miami is one of the biggest markets in the world for "luxury" cars -- for RollsRoyces, Ferraris, Jaguars, Mercedes, Porsches.
"I know that this county has been virtually recession- proof," says attorney Jeff Weiner. "While farmers were losing their places in the
Midwest, while people elsewhere were standing in line for unemployment, more Rolexes were being sold here, more Mercedes-Benzes
were being sold -- I understand that."
Art Nehrbass, head of the Organized Crime Bureau: "It definitely has caused a decline in the ethical standards. It's almost a threemonkeys philosphy. When you sell real estate, cars, boats, services, banking, legal profession -- 'if I don't know, it won't hurt me.' Those
people don't want to know,
because the money is there. . . . It affects the quality of our lives, the compromises that some of our business people see themselves
making. Over time, that has to affect the value system."
How much, exactly, does dope contribute to the Miami economy? Answers are murky, for they are to be found in what social scientists
call the "underground economy," which by definition is unmeasurable.
Consider that Dade's personal income that is measured runs about $20 billion. How much isn't measured?
Two local economists are trying to find out: Jan Luytjes, a professor at Florida International University, and Ray LaCombe, economist for
Professional Bancorp in Miami.
Luytjes reports that studies by the Internal Revenue Service show that 13 percent of national income is unreported. In Dade, because of
illegal immigrants who dare not report income, because of our "service economy" (meaning more tips, which are easy to ignore on
income-tax reporting) the local economy would have a higher than average underground income, even without drugs. But, he adds, the
income from drugs must be enormous.
Luytjes says that for the past five years, the three legitimate mainstays of the Dade economy -- tourists, international trade and the elderly
living off their savings and social security -- have all been been declining or "flat."
"But," says Luytjes, "our sales tax revenue went up. Not spectacularly. But they're up. . . . Now, how can expenses go up when the
economy is declining?"
Luytjes says that a "fairly gross estimate" is that $5 billion in Dade is part of the underground economy -- about a quarter of our entire
income.
LaCombe guesses that $2.6 billion might be from illegal activities -- dope, plus gambling and prostitution and so on -- "assuming that the

local figures are the same as the national averages (for the underground economy), and I believe they're higher."
Much of the money gets laundered and ends up invested in real estate. Doper money, many believe, has increased the demand for local
property, driving prices up. One law-enforcement official jokes that the reason he will never be able to afford a waterfront home in Dade is
because dopers have made waterfront property unaffordable for anyone but the outrageously rich.
Charles Kimball, a real estate expert who specializes in examining South Florida property records, says there's much truth to the joke.
Mostly, Kimball sees the dope trade in the activities of foreign corporations. "Some of these off-shore corporations may be trying to hide
money from their home governments, but I think the preponderance of them are firms laundering or concealing money." He says the
money comes from narcotics or other illegal activities.
When Kimball examines properties that have been put up in federal court as bail bonds, "you see over and over waterfront properties. But
in the late '70s and early '80s, they were also investing in home-building land. So those prices were increasing too, they boosted the
prices up and up -- but the cost is paid by all who buy homes out there."
Over the past few years, he has seen that "the off-shore corporations were most heavily buying on Key Biscayne. And whenever you
have a high-rise on the water, you have some of these people. They're on Brickell and on Miami Beach, all the way up to Aventura. And in
Boca Raton. . . . And Gable Estates." Consider the case of Jose "Cheo" Fernandez, a
drug smuggler and money launderer who invested heavily in Dade property. Cheo, now in jail, had a reputation as a tough dude. Once,
his brother was kidnapped and held for a $1 million ransom. Cheo refused to pay. The kidnappers sent Cheo a finger
cut from his brother's hand. Cheo said no. The kidnappers killed his brother. Then Cheo got mad. Later, in a conversation taped by police,
he was heard boasting that he had killed 30 persons linked with his brother's kidnapping.
When Cheo went to jail, his property was seized by the Internal Revenue Service, which figured that he owed about $13 million, more or
less, in back taxes.
Last Wednesday, some of Cheo's property was scheduled to go up for auction. The list of properties affords a good catalog of how dopers
invest in South Florida:
-- Cheo's house: 8265 SW 2nd St., four bedrooms, six baths, three-car garage, wrought-iron fence, red brick courtyard, four television
cameras watching the front of the house, plus plenty of other security measures. Estimated value: $500,000.
-- Four houses, five condominium units, four apartment units in Little Havana and Kendall.
-- Seven acres of land in South Dade.
Later, the government is expected to auction off another property connected with Cheo: Aly's Shopping Center, 7101 W. Flagler St.,
which has 20 shops with a total of 34,000 square feet. Estimated value: $2 million.
LOOKING FOR GREENBACKS
The days are gone when mysterious men would cart duffle bags of cash into banks and wait an hour for a teller to count it and give them
a deposit slip.
Faced with rigid government regulations, banks, car dealers and boat dealers now report cash deposits of $10,000 or more.
Because of this, large cash payments have virtually disappeared.
Only defense attorneys still accept large bundles of cash and keep their mouths shut. Many of them are filling out the required Form 8300
and sending it to the IRS, but on the space where they are supposed to reveal who gave them the money, they are claiming attorneyclient privilege. So far, the feds have not taken any attorneys to court over the matter.
For dopers these days, moving money is as difficult as moving dope.
"The problem with money," says U.S. Attorney Leon Kellner, "is the bulk. There is a lot of it."
A while back, when federal agents stopped a money launderer
from smuggling a load of cash to South America, they found $5.5 million in cash on his Lear jet -- stuffed into 15 Xerox boxes.
The highest denomination in circulation is the 100-dollar- bill, and many dopers prefer to work in 10s and 20s. Either way, it makes for big
chunks. The average coke transaction these days, the IRS figures, is running about $300,000 and it takes a container the size of an
airline pilot's chart case to carry that.
Economist LaCombe says many smugglers are now looking to buy legal businesses that deal in large amounts of cash, like supermarkets
and fast-food restaurants. That way, they can slip in their dope cash without anyone being suspicious.

The biggest dealers now employ a whole sub-group of people: international couriers to smuggle cash between Miami and Latin America,
national couriers to move the cash around the United States and an odd new group of innocent-looking types who make countless trips to
banks. This last group is called "smurfs."
MEET HERB THE SMURF
Herb Friedberg is a perfect guy to launder money: He looks like, well, just a regular guy, six-foot-two, a little pudgy, gray creeping into his
hair.
He had been manager of the Yacht Harbor condos in Coconut Grove until a back injury forced him into early retirement. He sat around
home, watching his disability benefits shrink, until one day he received a call from a Colombian he knew who had a $300,000 condo at
Yacht Harbor. The fellow invited him over; they had a drink, chatted, and the Colombian asked for a favor: He gave Herb a few thousand
dollars and wanted Herb to write him a check for the amount. He said he needed to send the check to South America, and he was so
busy that he didn't have time to go to his bank.
Herb thought about it a moment, figured why not, and wrote the check.
Over the next few months, the Colombian kept giving Herb cash, a few thousand here, a few thousand there, and getting Herb's checks in
return. It was never more than $14,000 a week, and the Colombian started giving him a little something for his "trouble": $50 here, $100
there.
"I was a little suspicious," says Herb, "but I spoke to a bank manager I knew, and he said there wasn't anything illegal about it."
Then the Colombian asked him to go to Los Angeles, call a telephone beeper number and meet a fellow who would give him $400,000.
Herb was to take the money to area banks. At each bank, he was to purchase a cashier's check for less than $10,000. The checks could
be made out to "any Hispanic name."
Herb found the request a "little strange," but he went ahead and did it. In Los Angeles a guy named "Hecho" responded to his beeper call
and led Herb to a "palatial home" overlooking the ocean. Inside, the only furniture was a few mattresses and some weight lifting
equipment.
"Hecho" said he had "got rid" of half the $400,000, and he gave Herb $200,000.
Herb dutifully spent the money on cashier's checks. It was not easy work -- a standard sized briefcase can only hold $100,000 or so in
20s. Each stop at a bank might take 15 to 30 minutes: waiting in line, filling out the forms. Even with skipping lunches, it took him almost
three days to get the money into check form.
Back in Miami, he turned over the checks to the Colombian and was reimbursed for his "trouble." This time, his share was substantial.
Herb was feeling pretty good with himself, until he chanced to read an article in The Miami Herald that made him realize he was a "smurf"
laundering money for dope dealers.
Herb was at a crossroads. A regular smurf can earn 1 percent of the money he launders. If he worked hard, he could launder $400,000 a
week, meaning he could take-home $4,000 -- in cash, no withholding. That works out to $200,000 a year, tax- free, just for schlepping
among a bunch of banks.
Easy money for what is essentially "clean" work. Many people in Miami have been tempted by that kind of corruption, but not Herb. He
walked into the FBI office, the FBI turned him over to the Internal Revenue Service, and for the next year, Herb performed undercover for
the feds, laundering several million dollars, working his way into narcotics and money- laundering operations. Sometimes he'd walk into a
guy's house to find $400,000 and a loaded gun on the kitchen table. Sometimes, he saw electronic money-counting equipment more
sophisticated than the IRS agents had, able to count and sort quickly, as well as detect counterfeits.
"I don't think the average person knows how bad Miami is," he says. "But then I had no idea until I got involved. . . . I could walk into
almost any bank in Miami today and point out to you people standing in line for tellers' windows, waiting to buy cashier's checks. Most of
them are young Latin males, guys 22, 23 years old."
The stakes are enormous. Herb calculates that if he wanted to be a broker, an employer of smurfs, "I could make myself a bundle,
starting tomorrow. I'd do it by corrupting little old ladies on Miami Beach. You know, they all have three savings accounts, because they
got a new toaster with each one. So you get three little old ladies. . . . What do you do? Give them $200 a week. These people trying to
live on Social Security, they'd kill for another $200 a week. Get 10 girlfriends, and figure that the guy running the smurfs keeps 3 percent
of the laundering for himself, I'd be making $250,000 a week."
MEET STEVE, THE JOURNALIST FROM SACRAMENTO
Steve Magagnini of the Sacramento Bee had come to Miami to do "the real Miami Vice" with a twist: the Miami cops arrested on dope and

murder charges.
"The real Miami Vice guys," he explained, "are corrupt."
But he had no idea of the magnitude of the Miami situation, as he discovered one day when he had lunch at Joe's Stone Crabs with a
Miami journalist.
The Miamian asked him how many bulletproof vests his Sacramento newspaper had.
"Why?" Steve asked. His paper has none. Why would an American newspaper have bulletproof vests?
The Miami Herald, he was told, has five.
"I don't like to admit it," Steve said, "but this is a terrible place." He paused. "Actually, let me say, it's a wonderfully terrible place."
MEET LITTLE NICKY, THE MOBSTER
"Might be a good idea," Louis the corrupt French policeman says to Bogie, "if you disappear from Casablanca for a while. There's a Free
French garrison in Brazzaville. . . . "
Some folks, of course, try to flee Miami's mix of cultures and intrigue by moving to Broward County. Trouble is, many of the more
traditional kinds of American crime are making the same trek -- an underworld version of "white flight," as it were.
Old-fashioned "organized crime," motorcycle gangs, telephone "boiler rooms" hawking gold or oil -- all seem to be booming in Broward,
says Steve Berticelli, head of Broward's Organized Crime Bureau.
"Over the past 20 years," he adds, "there has been a heavy concentration in Broward of traditional La Cosa Nostra types. They're
entrenched here, and they're active in criminal enterprises." The O.C.s are into gambling and narcotics and have "some linkage with
Colombian families. . . ."
"Traditional organized crime knows a community and knows how to work in a community. They're less prone to open violence than
Columbians; they're not looking for visibility."
But they do create problems. In fact, Broward County "has all the problems of Dade, but Dade has more resources" to fight crime. For
drug dealing alone, says Berticelli, Broward now has so much happening that "you could put all of the people in the Broward Sheriff's
Office on it and not come close to it."
More trouble may be on the way, brought by the arrival of a new "citizen": Little Nicky Scarfo, the reputed mob boss of Atlantic City and
one of the most notorious mobsters on the East Coast.
According to police surveillance reports, Little Nicky now has a house in Fort Lauderdale -- and a yacht.
The name of the yacht:
Casablanca.
Caption: color photo: Miami downtown (t), Mac-10 gun (t), Miami Vice set (t), coke bust (t), Brigade 2506 picnic (t), Lydia Maura (t), Miami
Beach (t)
Memo: COVER STORY
Index terms: MI IMAGE
Record: 8602160381
Copyright: Copyright (c) 1986 The Miami Herald