Victor Yanez, a 25-year-old with a penchant for tattoos, exotic cars and trips to Las Vegas, knew the cops were on to him.
Two years ago, he agreed to cooperate with state prosecutors after Miami detectives found him with counterfeit labels used to hide illegal bottles of powerful prescription cough syrup.
Fast forward to September, and deputies in the Florida Keys pulled him over for speeding and arrested him after allegedly finding a bag of marijuana inside his Mercedes-Benz. A few weeks later, federal agents raided his girlfriend's ocean-view luxury Brickell condo, seizing 2,274 grams of marijuana, 1,004 grams of the club-drug Molly and over 100 more counterfeit prescription labels, according to court documents.
But investigators say none of that deterred Yanez. Last week, Miami-Dade Schools police and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents raided his $800,000 Doral house and found three suitcases stuffed with 105 pounds of marijuana, 91 vials of cannabis oil, 24 counterfeit prescription labels and nearly $16,000 cash, according to an arrest report.
And two guns — heavily armed police officers burst into his house and found Yanez wielding an AK-47, according to an arrest report by Miami-Dade Schools Detective John Messenger. Yanez surrendered peacefully and was arrested on charges including armed trafficking, possessing counterfeit prescription labels and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. No arraignment date has been set.
Even if a Miami-Dade judge were to grant Yanez bail, he will be detained by federal immigration authorities because Yanez is a Colombian national living in the United States.
According to court documents, HSI's Violent Gang Task Force for months had been investigating Yanez, who is friends with rapper Rick Ross and Harrison Garcia, who is serving 30 years in prison and was a supplier of the potent codeine-infused soda drink "lean" favored on the South Florida hip-hop scene.
For agents, Yanez's Instagram page was a treasure trove of intelligence. He posted pics of a flashy lifestyle, posing with cups of the purple "lean" drink and taking trips to Southern California and Las Vegas. They discovered private Instagram messages of Yanez arranging the sale of "caraco" — code word for the codeine cough syrup, according to court documents.
They also targeted his girlfriend, Joeily Cardoso, raiding her Brickell Icon condo on Sept. 27.
Agents believe Cardoso was wiring money to China to buy illegal synthetic drugs, as well as using counterfeit money to buy clothes at high-end department stores, then returning them for legitimate cash, according to court documents.
She has since pleaded guilty in federal court to the counterfeit money scheme and was sentenced to 37 months in prison. When agents raided her condo, they found her in bed with Yanez and 12 bottles of the cough syrup soaking in a bathtub, so the real labels could be removed easily, agents said in court documents.
Yanez was believed to be the source of the bottles. He was not arrested that day as agents looked to build a bigger case. It was not until late Thursday that they raided his Doral home — and found the marijuana, according to court documents.