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Massive manhunt snags former 'Cocaine Cowboy' in Miami-Dade

Mario Gonzalez was arrested after being bitten by police dog

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – U.S. marshals arrested a former member of the Cocaine Cowboys gang this weekend in southwest Miami-Dade County after an extensive manhunt involving helicopters, K-9 units and dozens of officers from various law enforcement agencies.

Assistant Chief Manny Puri, a spokesman for the United States Marshals Service, said officers tracked Mario Gonzalez to a property at at 19950 Southwest 228 St. in southwest Miami-Dade County.

Gonzalez is wanted in New York on charges of health care fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud.

Puri said agents waited for several months as they gathered evidence, but when officers moved in for an arrest just before 8 p.m. Friday, Gonzalez fled using an all-terrain vehicle. 

Pursed by helicopters and dozens of officers, Gonzalez crashed his ATV into fence and fled on foot, Puri said. 

He called Gonzalez "the most prepared-to-run fugitive I’ve ever seen." 

However, Gonzalez wasn't prepared when a police dog eventually found him hiding in some bushes and bit him, Puri said. 

He said Gonzalez was found with a handgun and $36,000 in cash. Puri said the handgun is so powerful that is capable of penetrating body armor. 

Gonzalez is due in federal court Tuesday, where he is expected to be extradited to New York.

Gonzalez has a lengthy criminal record and a history of running from police.

Authorities said Gonzalez was once a member of a notorious smuggling operation, dubbed the "Cocaine Cowboys."

In the 1980s, the gang smuggled 75 tons of cocaine into the U.S., generating more than $2 billion in cash and assets.

Authorities said they were living the high life while Miami deteriorated into violent drug wars. Their eventual road to justice included charges of  money laundering, witness murders and jury tampering, authorities said.