319: Mario Tariche and Raquel Cicini – Cocaine Cowboys, Operation RECOIL (Part 1)

In Part 1 of this two-part episode, retired agents Mario Tariche and Raquel “Rocky” Cicini review their investigation of Willy Falcon, Sal Magluta, aka “The Cocaine Cowboys” and others, which resulted in the dismantlement of the largest drug trafficking organization in South Florida and provided the evidence of jury tampering and bribery in the acquittal verdict received in a prior drug case against the defendants.

The case was code-named Operation RECOIL, an acronym for Racketeering, Execution, Corruption, Obstruction of Justice, Intimidation of Witnesses, and Laundering of Money. However, it was memorialized in the Netflix series “Cocaine Cowboys Kings of Miami,” during which Mario and Rocky were interviewed.

Special Agent (Retired)

Mario Tariche

12/1991 – 12/2021

Retired agent Mario Tariche served with the FBI for 30 years.

He was assigned to the New York Division where he worked on drug trafficking cases and background investigations, the Miami Division’s Key West Resident Agency, and finally to Miami Division headquarter city to work on public corruption matters and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Mario served as the supervisor of the Public Corruption Task Force for 5 years and as the FBI Deputy On-Scene Commander for the Regime Crimes Liaison Office (RCLO) in Baghdad, Iraq, responsible for the trial of Saddam Hussein and the investigation of high-ranking Baath Party officials for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Additionally, he served in Kabul, Afghanistan, during 2 rotations in 2009 and 2010 for the Afghanistan Major Crimes Task Force. He also worked International Money Laundering and International Anti-Corruption matters at the FBI Legal Attaché Office in Bucharest and at the Coordination Center (IACCC) in London, where he worked closely with FVEY alliance partners.

Mario has received numerous awards and commendations to include the Director’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Law Enforcement Community and the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement. Additionally, he received 6 Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer awards from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida for work conducted on significant cases, and the Combat Theater Award for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Prior to retiring, he served two terms on the Executive Council and as the Co-Chair for the Director’s Special Agent Advisory Committee (SAAC).

Mario currently works out of the Miami Office as a contract senior financial investigator for the Criminal Investigative Division (CID) International Corruption Squad (ICU).

Special Agent (Former)

Raquel Cicini

8/1996 – 1/2007

Former agent Rocky Cicini served in the FBI for 11 years. Prior to joining the Bureau, she was a homicide detective specializing in complex murder investigations.

She spent her career in the Miami Field Office investigating high-profile corruption cases of political figures, corrupt law enforcement officials, and government employees. During her FBI career, Rocky became a certified instructor and Crisis Negotiator for the Critical Incident Response Group. Her expertise was invaluable in training local police departments and participating in domestic and international critical incidents.

During her career, her outstanding contributions were honored with prestigious awards such as the Attorney General Award and the Drug Enforcement Administrator’s Award. Additionally, she has been bestowed with numerous accolades from the AUSA Southern District Attorney’s Office and State Attorney.

Her last assignment was as the coordinator of the Miami Office’s Confidential File Room (CFR), where she managed the program and ensured that human intelligence sources were adequately vetted and beneficial to the FBI’s mission. She remained in this position until she became a stay-at-home mom, focused on caring for her special needs daughter.

Rocky continues to apply her extensive experience and expertise as a security consultant, working alongside her husband, retired FBI Agent Joe Cicini. Together, they founded the 1811 Group, a Miami-based boutique security consulting firm that specializes in risk mitigation for high-net-worth individuals, families, and corporations.

The following are links to news article about the investigation of Willy Falcon, Sal Magluta, aka “The Cocaine Cowboys,” and others, plus case related images:

Official Trailer | Netflix – Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings Of Miami

Miami New Times – 2/25/1999: In Pursuit of Willy and Sal (Part 1)

Miami New Times – 3/4/1999: In Pursuit of Willy and Sal (Part 2)

Miami Times – 8/4/2021: Willy & Sal, Episode 2: Person to Person From Willy & Sal

Ocala Star banner – 7/23/2003: Drug lord handed 20 years

US District Court for the Southern District of Florida – 12/16/1996:  Magluta v. United States, 952 F. Supp. 798 (S.D. Fla. 1996)

The St. Augustine Record – 2/1/2018: ‘Cocaine Cowboy’ on the run for 26 years pleads guilty in Miami to drug trafficking

The Ledger – 8/23/2003: Two Jurors, 3 Others Charged in Bribery Plot

Ocala Star banner – 1/15/2004: Jurors get five years for bribes

Listen to the case review of the Miguel Moya portion of the investigation here – Episode 134: Michael J. Anderson – Juror Bribery, Obstruction of Justice

The “before” photo. Sal and Willie in Las Vegas.
The case was code-named Operation RECOIL, an acronym for Racketeering, Execution, Corruption, Obstruction of Justice, Intimidation of Witnesses, and Laundering of Money.
The “after” photo. Sal at the Federal Detention Center in Miami.
The “after” photo. Willie at the Federal Detention Center in Miami.
Mario and Rocky standing in front of the FBI seizure of $6.2 million in cash.
Mike Anderson, Rocky, and Mario, receiving the Director’s Award for Distinguished Service from former FBI Director Louie Freeh for Operation Recoil.
Mugshot of Marilyn Bonachea, an important witness in the Sal Magluta trial.
A page from Marilyn Bonachea’s ledger book.




































Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.

1 Comment

  1. […] to FBI Retired Case File Review 319: Mario Tariche and Raquel Cicini – Cocaine Cowboys, Operation Recoil to learn about the re-investigation and conviction of Salvador Magluta and Willy Falcon. […]


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