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80s 'Cocaine Cowboy' accused of $1.6 million chop shop conspiracy

How long can a criminal record follow you? A long time, as a so-called "Cocaine Cowboy" for the 1980s Medellin cartel is just finding out.

In the 1980s, Mickey M. was convicted of smuggling as much as 10 tons of cocaine for Pablo Escobar's cartel. Now, the 71 year-old is among eight people who have been federally indicted for running a car repossession and theft ring, praying on struggling owners and outright stealing other cars. If they're found guilty, they each face up to 20 years behind bars.

According to the New York Daily News, the group allegedly bought automobiles through straw purchasers, paid bottom dollar for cars from struggling owners, and stole still other vehicles. These purchases and thefts apparently took place in Missouri, as the group is also indicted for transporting cars illegally from Missouri to Florida.

There, the group allegedly hid any cars that were subject to repossession. One member of the supposed conspiracy is accused of trying to acquire new titles for the stolen vehicles. The group then sold everything off at below-market prices, netting a total of $1.6 million, according to prosecutors.

Mickey M. is among the last surviving "Cocaine Cowboys," a group of smugglers who brought cocaine into the U.S. during the 80s. His suppliers called him "MacGyver" for his ability to run circles around federal agents. In an interview in 2013, he told reporters that he made $2.5 million over the course of six years for trafficking in around $38 million in cocaine.

It's not clear how much Mickey's criminal background affected the investigation or indictment. It's certain that a background as a storied drug smuggler would not have been considered a mitigating circumstance, and his reputation could easily have triggered a bias that made him seem guiltier than he is.

What we do know is that prior criminal convictions are taken heavily into account under the federal sentencing guidelines.

The New York Daily News was unsure whether Mickey M. has a defense attorney yet. If he's wise, he will get one who is highly experienced in the federal justice system.

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