For a guy who escaped an assassination attempt while married to a future “Real Housewives of Miami” television star and who once snitched on a notorious drug kingpin, Pedro Rosello’s arrest proved pretty low key.
Rosello, 52, was picked up last week during a traffic stop in Florida City with two kilos of cocaine that federal agents say he admitted he was going to sell, according to a complaint filed in U.S. federal court.
The five page-complaint, signed by Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Joshua Evans, said agents received a tip last week that Rosello intended to sell five kilograms of cocaine, and they successfully set up a sting on Wednesday that ended with Rosello’s arrest after a traffic stop.
“Rosello gave verbal consent for law enforcement to search the vehicle. A K-9 search was conducted and the K-9 alerted on the rear passenger seat of the vehicle,” the complaint says.
Federal agents said they found two kilos of cocaine under the back seat and that Rosello was taken to the Homestead Police Department for questioning. His first Miami court appearance was on Monday.
For Rosello, last week’s arrest is a footnote to a life story that included marriage to Alexia Echevarria, who went on to the bright lights of television.
Once a confidential informant himself, Rosello was more widely known as Luis Mendez during the Cocaine Cowboy heydeys of the 1980s. His nickname was “Pegy.” He once tipped off DEA agents and U.S. marshals to the whereabouts of cocaine kingpin Sal Magluta, who was hiding out as a fugitive at his La Gorce Island mansion in 1991.
The next year Rosello married Alexia Figueredo, as she was then named, who went on to become a “Real Housewives” star. The day their son Pedro was born at Palmetto General Hospital in Hialeah, Colombian assassins allegedly sent by Magluta were hunting him down.
But they never got a chance to get to Rosello, according to prosecutors and trial testimony, because Rosello stayed overnight and he never left the hospital. The couple divorced in 1995 and his ex remarried and changed her name.
He snitched on everybody, so it was particularly brutal. I mean, they tried to kill him.
Billy Corben, Miami filmmaker
Eventually, Rosello was convicted of cocaine trafficking as part of the Willie Falcon and Sal Magluta case. He testified at their trial and served some prison time. Stunningly, Falcon and Magluta would be acquitted of charges of smuggling 75 tons of cocaine and hauling in more than $2 billion for the Colombian cartel.
The feds would soon learn that Falcon and Magluta paid off jurors and three cooperating witnesses would be murdered. Falcon is now facing a U.S. deportation order to Cuba after completing a 20-year sentence in June on a money-laundering plea agreement. Magluta received a 205-year sentence and was ordered to pay a $63 million fine.
Yet even after that sordid saga, Rosello was arrested again in 2007 for sexual battery on a minor and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He didn’t serve the full sentence and in 2012 he was arrested yet again, this time for probation violation. Rosello is a registered sex offender, state records show.
Billy Corben, who directed 2006’s acclaimed documentary Cocaine Cowboys and who has spent the past several years working on a follow-up about Willie and Sal called Cocaine Cowboys, Los Muchachos, knows Rosello well. The two had breakfast two weeks ago and Rosello was working with Corben for the upcoming documentary.
He compared Rosello to the Henry Hill character played by Ray Liotta in the 1990 movie Goodfellas, an outsider who became extremely close to the crime family and eventually turned on them and became an informant. Corben said for the past few years, Rosello’s former wife Alexia had been helping out Rosello.
“He was a young kid who grew up in that world,” said Corben. “He was washing cars on the weekend and making more money than his dad. “He snitched on everybody, so it was particularly brutal. I mean, they tried to kill him.”