Episode 224: Rich Garcia – Miami Vice, Colombian Cartel Undercover Sting

Retired age Richard “Rich” Garcia served in the FBI for 25 years. In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, Rich Garcia reviews his Group 1 Undercover Operation (UCO), where agents set up a bogus company to sell beepers, cell phones, shortwave radios, and other high-technology devices to Colombian cartel drug smugglers transporting shipping drugs from Central and South America to the United States. The case, code-named “Cat-Com” for Catch Communications, resulted in charges against 93 alleged drug traffickers, including the leaders of three distribution networks.

Rich Garcia was a street agent in the Dallas, San Juan, and Miami Divisions. He held management level positions at FBIHQ, Washington Field Office, and the El Paso and Houston Divisions. He retired as the Assistant Director in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Office.

During his career, Rich Garcia received numerous awards for investigative and managerial operations to include the Attorney General’s Award and the Presidential Rank Award. While assigned to FBIHQ as the Section Chief of Operations for the Information Resources Division, Garcia played a significant role in the espionage investigation of FBI spy Robert Hanssen. Garcia managed and monitored his activities prior to Hanssen’s arrest.

Currently, Rich Garcia is the Principal of the 3RB Consulting Group, LLC, which uses its extensive global network to put companies and clients together that need services in Cyber Security, Assessments and Cyber Training.

Rich mentions working with Bob Levinson, who was held hostage for 13 years and died in the custody of his Iranian captors, and responding to the 1986 Miami firefight where agents Jerry Dove and Ben Grogan were killed. The following are inks to case reviews of both tragic events:

Episode 197: Nancy Savage – Robert Levinson, Iranian Hostage RIP

Episode 118: Ed Mireles – Fatal FBI Miami Shootout (Part 1)

Episode 119: Ed Mireles – Fatal FBI Miami Shootout (Part 2)

Special Agent (Retired)

Richard T. Garcia

1980 – 2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We found out drug traffickers were dedicated to money. They were loyal to that. Otherwise they couldn’t care less who they would work with. Not like the mob who is more dedicated to family members.”—Retired Agent Rich Garcia

The following are links to articles about the Cat-Com undercover operation targeting the Colombian Cartel:

The Washington Post – 12/7/1988:  93 CHARGED IN FBI OPERATION DIRECTED AT DRUG CARTELS

New York Times – 04/23/1990: Colombian Cocaine: Tracking Down Dealers – A special report; A Covert and Major Victory is Reported in the Drug War

Associated Press – 12/6/1988: High-Tech FBI Sting Leads to Charges Against 93 U.S. Drug Traffickers

2 Brian Ross News Report Cat-Com (VIDEO download)

Books and Articles

Blow – by Bruce Porter,1993 Chapter 11 – Jacksonville 1987 (Bob Levinson and Rich Garcia develop a scheme to lure Carlos Lehder out of Colombia in order to capture him.)

The FBI – by Ronald Kessler,1993 Chapter 5 – Miami, Super Bowl of Crime (Discussion about the Cat-Com investigation and photo of Undercover Agents and Trafficker Carlos Mario, nephew of Jose Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, aka El Mexicano of the Medellin cartel.)

Kings of Cocaine – by Guy Gugliotta and Jeff Leen, 1989 Chapter 33 – The Henry Ford of Cocaine (Mentioned FBI [Levinson/Garcia] getting Jung to testify against Carlos Lehder)

Cat Com Air Operation map identifying shipments of cocaine smuggled and seized during the Colombian cartel case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name of the fictitious cell phone business was a combination of Rich Garcia and the confidential source’s first initials.

 

 

 

 

 

The exterior of the Cat-Com business office located in a Miami industrial park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rich Garcia holding a 1980s era cell phone and an adult beverage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rich Garcia posing next to his uncover Corvette convertible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special agents Gloria LNU and Rich Garcia posing with Carlos Mario and his signed “confession” in 1987.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coast Guard members with a haul of cocaine seized from smugglers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cocaine seized during the Cat-Com Colombian cartel undercover sting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 200 episodes available for free subscription on all popular podcast apps.

8 Comments

  1. Catherine HanniganMarch 18, 2021

    I Love Crime Podcast Keep Up The Good Word

    Reply
    1. Jerri WilliamsMarch 19, 2021

      Thanks for listening!

      Reply
  2. AJFebruary 20, 2021

    Consistently excellent!!!!!

    You and all the agents, knowledgeable, experienced and experts.. the depth and quality shines through

    Reply
  3. ShellyFebruary 19, 2021

    Now I see this worked. I wrote a long note and the message said to notify administrator or try again.
    Anyways, I love these stories but I would love to hear the back story about the drug Cartel involved with
    Ronel refineries in Hollywood Florida. I worked for Loren Industries and I was always perplexed how that came about. All I remember was being told not to talk to reporters and we could not leave the building with out our our licenses. I was not even 20 years old when this all went down. When I tell people I was apart of one of the biggest drug take downs lol they think I am crazy. But it was crazy scary at the time. All us innocent workers almost lost our jobs because of greed! The Sun Sentinel has a story from February 25,1989

    thank you

    Reply
    1. Jerri WilliamsFebruary 20, 2021

      Sounds interesting! I’ll see what I can find out.

      Reply
      1. ShellyFebruary 20, 2021

        Please forgive my grammar, I am very dyslexic and forming a sentence can be a struggle when I am trying to get all the thoughts out. My brain goes a mile a minute. :). I sure hope you could find out. I truly grew up in the Miami vice years and it was so interesting.

        Thank you again for your time.
        Shelly

        Reply
  4. michaele lowmanFebruary 19, 2021

    I tried to email and it said it could not go thru.

    Reply
    1. Jerri WilliamsFebruary 20, 2021

      Sorry About that. Can you email me directly at jerriwilliamsauthor@gmail.com.Thank you.

      Reply

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