Inside the Criminal Empire of Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta

April 18, 2024
6 mins read

The criminal underworld is an intricate web of operations and organizations, often shrouded in secrecy and mystery. While many notorious crime bosses have been immortalized in pop culture and folklore, few have risen to the level of infamy as Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta. These two men, who became known as the “Cocaine Cowboys”, built an empire on the drug trade that spanned the globe, making billions of dollars in the process. In this video, we’ll delve deep into the lives of Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta, exploring their backgrounds, careers, and their infamous criminal empire.

Who are Willy and Sal?

Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta are two Cuban-American drug traffickers who gained notoriety in the 1980s and 1990s for their involvement in the cocaine trade. They would eventually become leaders of one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the country, making a fortune through their criminal empire.

About Willy Falcon

Augusto Guillermo “Willy” Falcon was born on 1st September 1955 in Cuba. He came to the United States with his family when he was only six years old, and grew up in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida, where he attended the local schools. As a teenager, he found himself in trouble with the law for minor infractions of petty theft and vandalism, amongst others. He soon realized that he could make much more money running drugs than committing petty crimes.  So Falcon began selling drugs, and soon became involved in the drug trade on a larger scale, dropping out of high school and working full-time as a drug dealer.


About Sal Magluta

Salvador Magluta was born on 5th November 1954, in Havana, Cuba and also came to the United States as a child. His family owned a small bakery in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida, where he grew up and attended Miami Senior High School. Like Falcon, he became involved in the drug trade at a young age, and dropped out of high school to pursue his criminal activities.

How did they meet?

Willy and Sal met through mutual friends, and after finding common ground on their shared dreams for wealth, and becoming drug lords, they started a business smuggling marijuana into South Florida. Despite their vastly different backgrounds, the pair formed an unlikely alliance which eventually became one of South Florida’s most notorious crime organizations.

How did their Criminal Empire come about?

Although they lacked formal education, Falcon and Magluta were both intelligent and savvy businessmen. Their criminal careers began in the 1970s when they became involved in the marijuana trade. They quickly became successful in this field and began to expand their operations, eventually moving into the cocaine trade in the early 1980s. At this time, the cocaine trade was booming in Miami, and Falcon and Magluta were perfectly positioned to take advantage of the market. Their organization became known for its innovative smuggling techniques, including the use of speedboats and small planes to transport large quantities of drugs. They also developed an extensive network of contacts throughout the United States, South America, and the Caribbean, allowing them to transport drugs across international borders with ease.


As their organization grew, Falcon and Magluta became more and more powerful. They employed dozens of people, including lawyers, accountants and security personnel, to help them run their operations.unpunished if not  They also bribed law enforcement officials and politicians to ensure that their activities went undetected, with airboats shuttling supplies between Fort Lauderdale and Havana, Cuba. Taking advantage of lax enforcement policies against smugglers at this time, they quickly built up both financial capital and influence before branching out into other areas such as arms trafficking. With their newly established financial security came greater ambitions; they expanded operations beyond just transporting illegal goods but used intricate diversion tactics like laundering money through casinos, couriered airplanes full or difficult-to-detect methods like high-stake horse racing bets to smuggle cash overseas instead of shipments.

Criminal Empire and legacy.

They had a reputation for being ruthless and cunning, willing to do whatever it took to protect their empire. Over the years, they were linked to numerous murders, but always managed to evade prosecution through a combination of bribery, intimidation and legal maneuvering. At the height of their operations, they were said to be making $2 billion a year from their drug trade— quite impressive for the duo who started with nothing.

Their legacy is a complicated one. On the one hand, they were brutal criminals who caused untold harm to countless people through their drug trafficking activities. On the other hand, they were also seen as Robin Hood-like figures by many in the Cuban-American community, who appreciated their willingness to stand up to the US government and their perceived persecution of Cuban immigrants. Some even saw them as freedom fighters, fighting against a corrupt system that had long oppressed their people.


Even though they were notorious for their expansive drug trade, they have had relatively few appearances in pop culture. One notable exception is the hit television series “Narcos” which features a character based on Sal Magluta. In the show, Magluta is portrayed as a savvy and charismatic drug lord who always manages to stay one step ahead of the authorities. The real-life Magluta was reportedly a big fan of the show, but it’s unclear how accurate the portrayal was.

Quite recently, the pair were the subjects of the 2021 Netflix documentary, “Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami”, a depiction of their lives and rise to infamy. That same year, American rapper and producer, Rick Ross released a single, “Little Havana”, a tribute to Willy. The video opens with a short audio clip of Falcon in which he claims to have built Miami into the city it is today, as well as appreciating Rick Ross for ‘keeping my name in your music’.

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Notoriety and eventual imprisonment— a time line.

  • The duo’s reign started to loosen in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when they were indicted on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering, racketeering, extortion, and fraud. Their trial, which took place in 1996, was one of the longest and most expensive in the history of the United States. Over 70 witnesses testified against Falcon and Magluta, including former members of their organization who had turned state’s evidence. Despite the overwhelming evidence against them, Falcon and Magluta were able to evade conviction for many years. They hired some of the most high-powered lawyers in the country and used their immense wealth to bribe witnesses and intimidate jurors. Willy was represented by prominent lawyers including Susan Van Dusen, Albert Krieger, and D. Robert “Bobby” Wells. Meanwhile, Magluta was represented by Martin Weinberg, Roy Black and Richard Martinez— his brother in law. After a lengthy trial, they were both found not guilty by Judge Federico Moreno.,


  • A year later, Willy was convicted of illegal possession of firearms followed by an investigation into their finances. The authorities uncovered a trail revealing that the drug kingpins bribed members of the jury. The jurors, defendants, lawyers and their associates involved in the bribery all faced heavy charges due to their criminal offenses. Both Sal and Willy were convicted and forced to serve life imprisonment. However, in 2003, Willy pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering in an effort to reduce his sentence to a 20-year one through a plea deal. Eventually, in 2017, he was released and immediately transferred into ICE custody where, before being deported to the Dominican Republic. Not long after, he had to flee as his residence in the republic was unwelcome.

  • On the other end, Magluta faced a number of cases against him. In 2002, he was tried for obstruction of justice, bribing jurors, money laundering and killing witnesses. A year later, his father and son were found guilty of storing illegal money from the drug empire to intimidate and bribe jurors and witnesses alike. Of all 39 counts, jurors found him guilty of 12; subsequently, he was sentenced to 205 years in prison, but reduced to 195 years after an appeal. He was transferred to the maximum security federal prison in Florence, Colorado.
  • While most people would assume the pair would stop their illegal activities and serve their lengthy sentences quietly, it wasn’t the case with this pair. Even from behind bars, Falcon and Magluta maintained their reputation for being cunning and resourceful. They were reportedly involved in a number of schemes to smuggle drugs and other contraband into prison, and even managed to have a tunnel dug underneath their cell that led to a nearby house!

How much were they worth?

It’s difficult to put an exact figure on Willy and Sal’s net worth, as much of their money was hidden in offshore bank accounts and other shady enterprises. For over two decades, Willy and his accomplice Sal amassed billions of dollars through evading law enforcement, and corruption, amongst other illicit activities. Their empire extended from South Florida to Central America and was responsible for trafficking drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy in multiple countries all around the world. According to authoritative sources, it’s estimated that at their height, they were worth around $2 billion, each. This wealth allowed them to live a life of luxury, with multiple mansions, private jets, and fleets of cars at their disposal. The two men were known for their extravagant lifestyles, and reportedly spent millions on luxury cars, yachts, and other toys.

Olivia Wilson

As the Freelance Writer at Net Worth Post, I steer producing riveting stories about the lives and triumphs of influencers. With an unwavering commitment to precision and a flair for weaving compelling tales, I guide our content creation, from the depths of research to the pinnacle of narrative excellence. My responsibilities encompass the full spectrum of editorial management, including the meticulous investigation, narrative development, and upholding the integrity and high standard of our output.

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