What Netflix's Cocaine Cowboys Didn't Tell You

Netflix's latest documentary series "Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami" follows the story behind two of Miami's infamous '80s drug kingpins — Salvador "Sal" Magluta and Augusto "Willy" Falcon — who together were called Los Muchachos (The Boys). The six-part series starts off with the tale of the two high school friends, their popularity as champion speed boat racers, and their eventual rise to the top of Miami's lucrative drug trade. At the peak of their dealings, the pair was responsible for smuggling 75 tons of cocaine, which was worth an estimated $2 billion, into the city, per The Guardian. This supply was mostly coming from Colombia, and the duo was working with the notorious Medellín cartel.

Through interviews with former associates, friends, relatives, acquaintances, and law officials, director Billy Corben explores the lives that Magluta and Falcon led, and their downfall, which would come in 1991. The pair was indicted on multiple drug trafficking charges that year, but it took several years before they could go on trial in 1996, and then again in 2002. Magluta was initially sentenced to 205 years in prison (via the Justice Department), which was later reduced to 195 (per Associated Press). Falcon took a plea deal for a 20-year bid, per a report from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Magluta and Falcon's speedboats

Magluta and Falcon did not just become big in the cocaine world overnight. They had an orchestrated plan to bring drugs into Miami. As well-known powerboat speed racers, what better way to smuggle drugs in super-fast boats? The duo used speedboats to transport Colombian cocaine from the Bahamas to Florida (via Powerboat Racing World). According to the New Miami Times, they disguised their real "jobs" with the boating hobby, and they even had boat-racing titles to prove it.

Falcon had a Cougar speedboat, and Magluta had a Seahawk, and raced under those names, respectively (via Associated Press). After getting indicted, all of their possessions, including their boats, were seized and became federal property. The Boys had some boats made just for them. Most models of '80s-era powerboats are no longer manufactured, but one of the boats used to transport drugs turned up several years ago. Per Serious Offshore, one of their 26-foot power boats went up for sale on CraigsList for a mere $2,500. Another one apparently was up for sale for $25,000 a few years ago (via Scoopnest). It's unclear just how many boats they owned in total, but the pair definitely had a lot in order to bring in tons of cocaine that turned them into millionaires. It's also safe to say that most of their watercraft have all either been sold to avid boat racers or antique collectors, since neither will ever recover their beloved boats.

Where is key witness Marilyn Bonachea?

In 1991, dozens of smugglers, associates, and other cowboys, if you will, were also arrested in the takedown of Magluta and Falcon's empire. Shortly after, officials had indictments for the pair. After their arrests and charges, many witnesses testified against The Boys, including a former girlfriend and childhood sweetheart of Magluta's — Marilyn Bonachea (pictured). She is interviewed throughout the docuseries and is noted as an exemplary witness in a criminal trial. It was her testimony that helped link Magluta to murders and indict other members of his drug organization. During the height of The Boys' reign as smugglers, Bonachea attended the University of Miami and later worked as a teacher in Miami public schools. But that all stopped in 1991. 

She supposedly maintained a vested interest in managing and laundering money for Magluta's finances. She had possession of the ledger, which was proof of his dealings. Bonachea did this up until 1996 when she was stopped by authorities and the ledger was seized (via Justice Department). This later forced her to go into hiding, and she fled to New York while Magluta continued to financially support her. However, officials caught up with her in 1998. That was the end of the road for Bonachea, and she decided to work with authorities. This is how Bonachea ended up testifying against Magluta and Falcon as well as others.

After leaving the witness protection program in 2003, Bonachea says in the documentary that she lost most of her friends and family. Today, she lives in Vero Beach, Florida, and works as a consultant, per her LinkedIn profile.

Deported close to home

Both Magluta and Falcon were born in Cuba. Like many Cuban immigrants in the U.S. since the late '50s, many of them have settled in the nearby state of Florida — particularly in Miami. Today, they make up one of the largest foreign born population groups in the city and state, per Pew Research.

After serving his 20-year prison sentence, Falcon was released in 2017, but he was not able to go back to the glamorous lifestyle he once lived. Subsequently, Falcon had to be deported and was going to his native country of Cuba. Only, he had too many enemies there. Falcon was not only a drug trafficker, but he was also supposedly funding a hit squad and working with the CIA to eliminate Cuba's defiant and long-running former leader, Fidel Castro. To save his life, his lawyers challenged his deportation order, and Falcon was given the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic as an alternative, per WBUR. Less than two hours away by plane from Cuba, the Dominican Republic agreed to accept him, and he was released there in 2018 (via NBC Miami). But criticism from locals likely led to him disappearing not long after arriving.

Currently, no one knows where Falcon is or if he still remains in the Dominican Republic. His three adult children — Aileen, Jessica, and William — are adults now, and it is not clear if Falcon has ever reconnected with them or where they live. After his conviction, no one knows where the children were placed and what relatives they had. Sadly, Falcon's wife Alina Rossique-Falcon was the victim of random violent shooting in 1992 (via Sun Sentinel).

Cocaine Cowboys was years in the making

"Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami" was in the works for years. In fact, it's actually a more detailed follow-up to director Billy Corben's (pictured above) previous 2006 documentary about The Boys and other kingpins, simply titled "Cocaine Cowboys." The two-hour film mostly explored several key figures that played a role in the rise of cocaine coming into Miami, not solely Magluta and Falcon.

The doc was released just a few years after both men were sentenced. Shortly after they were preparing to do their time in prison, their former associates — most who had been captured and been in custody since the first arrests were made in 1991 — were on their way out.

Corben told Oxygen that as a result of these releases, a few ex-cons involved were contacting him, and then he, too, connected with others to begin working on his Netflix docu-series. As a result, word eventually got to Magluta in prison. It was a jackpot for Corben, whose goal was to one day tell the story of Magluta and Falcon. Magluta's willingness to share earned Corben access to something very valuable for the project. "Sal basically opened up his parents' home to me ... and I had access to Sal's personal archives," said Corben to Oxygen.

While there has been no big screen Hollywood films (as of yet), their story inspired the TV show "Miami Vice" as well as the film "Scarface." It was also the subject of a "Gangsters: America's Most Evil" episode (via IMDb).