Senator Marco Rubio’s Brother in Law: A Convicted Drug Trafficker
Barbara Rubio and Orlando Cicilia declined an interview with Univision Investiga. Mario Tabraue who was sentenced to 100 years in jail had his prison term reduced by 90 percent and is now free. He returned to the business of exotic animals which on occasion he has provided to Univision Entertainment programs.
Senator Marco Rubio has provided generous details about his family, expressing time and again during his successful 2009 U.S. senate campaign that he was proud of his parents’ efforts to build a better future for their four children in this country.
But there is one family episode that the Senator does not want to talk about. Univision Investiga has learned that in 1987, Rubio’s older sister Barbara was caught up in the year’s most significant antinarcotics operation in South Florida.
According to public records, federal prosecutors in Miami ordered the seizure of the home where Barbara Rubio lived with her husband Orlando Cicilia. Prosecutors suspected the home was being used for activities that violated drug laws. Another property owned by the couple, located in what today is an office building, was also subject to seizure for the same reason.
(Senator Rubio: Image from politico.com)
Barbara Rubio was not arrested or indicted. Cicilia was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana belonging to a crime ring implicated in the death and dismemberment of a federal informant, as well as the bribing of several Miami police officers.
At the time, Marco Rubio, just 16 years old, was a student at South Miami High.
Univision asked the Senator how this epsiode affected his family and what type of relationship he had with his convicted brother-in-law. Rubio’s spokesperson, who did not deny any of the information uncovered by Univision Investiga, said he considered the issue a private family matter.
“Quite simply, the pursuit of this story and the targeting of the Senator’s relatives, who are private citizens, is outrageous,” said Alex Burgos in a letter to Univision CEO Randy Falco seeking to kill the story. “They do not hold public office and are unrelated in every way to his service in the United States Senate.”
Burgos added, “When Senator Rubio’s sister’s husband was a younger man 25 years ago, it is a fact that he made many mistakes. He and his family have paid the price for them…This is not news. This is tabloid journalism.”
According to federal documents and press coverage of the trial, Cicilia was identified as a second-level member of a drug trafficking outfit led by Mario Tabraue, a Cuban American known for keeping an extensive collection of exotic animals in his home.
Before being indicted, Cicilia earned a living in the exotic fish and bird trade. In 1980, he married Barbara Rubio in Nevada, where the Senator’s parents lived at the time. Mario, the Senator’s father, worked at Sam’s Town Hotel in Las Vegas and Oria, Rubio’s mother, was a maid at Imperial Palace.In 1985 the family moved to Miami, a city plagued by drug related crime. Drama struck the Rubio family just two years later when Cicilia was arrested as part of a larger raid dubbed “Operation Cobra.” News of the arrests occupied the front pages of the city’s newspapers.
Cicilia was let go in November of 2000 after receiving a reduction in his sentence for good behavior.
Cicilia currently lives in Senator Rubio’s mother’s home in southwest Miami, and is listed in Miami-Dade County public housing records as a co-owner of the residence.