Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a rising star in the Republican party who is often mentioned as a potential vice presidential nominee, could find his political prospects tarnished by news that his sister and her husband were caught up in a South Florida drug trafficking raid in the 1980s.An investigation by Univision found that Rubio’s brother-in-law, Orlando Cicilia, was arrested during a major antinarcotics operation in 1987. Rubio was a 16-year old high school student at the time.
According to public records, Cicilia was arrested after federal law enforcement seized the Miami home where he lived with Barbara Rubio, Senator Rubio’s sister. Barbara Rubio was not arrested or indicted. Cicilia was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana.
The arrest was part of “Operation Cobra,” a federal crackdown on a Florida drug smuggling ring that killed a federal informer and chopped up his body, according to a NYT story published at the time. The story reports that the ring, led by Cuban American Mario Tabraue, paid $150,000 in bribes to the Key West police chief and Miami-Dade county officials, and used Miami police officers to collect, count, and disburse drug profits.
Cicilia was released in 2000 for good behaviour. Univision reports that he currently lives in Senator Rubio’s mother’s home in southwest Miami and is listed as a co-owner of the house.
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