Crime

Two plead guilty for roles in Miami drug deal that left Canadian teen dead

Johann Ruiz, seated with lawyer, Neil Taylor, pleaded guilty Thursday in connection with the drug deal that killed the teen son of a Canadian diplomat in Miami.
Johann Ruiz, seated with lawyer, Neil Taylor, pleaded guilty Thursday in connection with the drug deal that killed the teen son of a Canadian diplomat in Miami. Miami Herald

Two men involved in a drug deal that led to the killing of the son of a Canadian diplomat in Miami will avoid jail time after pleading guilty on Thursday.

Johann Ruiz, 21, and Anthony Rodriguez, 19, agreed to attend the jail system’s boot camp, serve house arrest and complete five years of probation.

They must also testify against Marc Wabafiyebazu, 15, who is still awaiting trial in connection with a wild shootout that left his brother, Jean, and another teenager dead in March. Police believe Jean and 17-year-old Joshua Wright, a former Coral Gables High student, shot and killed each other during a drug deal gone bad. Neither Ruiz nor Rodrigues fired any weapons that day.

The case drew worldwide media attention, particularly in Canada. Marc and his 18-year-old brother, Jean, are the sons of Roxanne Dubé, who became Canada’s consul general in Miami earlier this year. The boys had moved to Pinecrest with their mother, and had only been in South Florida for about a month.

Prosecutors say Marc and Jean set up the deal to pay $4,800 for two pounds of marijuana from a group of dealers at a Coral Way neighborhood apartment, but planned the whole time to rob the men of drugs.

Under Florida law, anyone who commits certain felonies in which someone dies — in Marc’s case, an alleged attempted armed robbery — can be charged with first-degree felony murder.

Prosecutors say Ruiz, who was wounded in the shooting, ran the drug house where the gunfire erupted. Rodriguez was the one who brought the marijuana to the deal; he, too, was wounded. The two men had been charged with the less serious third-degree felony murder charge for participating in the drug deal that led to the two deaths.

On Thursday, Miami-Dade prosecutors dropped the murder charges, while both men pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Ruiz also pleaded guilty to operating a home with intent to sell drugs.

After the six-month boot camp, Ruiz will serve two years of house arrest, Rodriguez, one year.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler told the young men that they had been given a second chance — and that their sentence was no walk in the park.

“Boot camp is not easy,” Pooler said. “They’re very strict in there. You have to get up early to do the exercises. It’s like being in the Army.”

Ruiz’s defense lawyer, Neil Taylor, thanked Miami-Dade prosecutors.

“This was a tragic case, even by Miami standards,” Taylor said. “I think Johann recognizes just how fortunate he is, not only to be alive, but to be able to put this behind him.”

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