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Cops nab alleged 'drug kingpin' who assumed identity of a dead infant

Howard Farley Jr., who spent 35 years on the run, was arrested in a tiny town in Florida as he was attempting to board his private plane in the hangar at his home.

Federal agents arrested a man – who was described by prosecutors as an “alleged drug kingpin” – after he applied for a passport using the identity of a dead infant, authorities said.

Howard Farley Jr., 72, had eluded police for more than 35 years after he was charged with running a sprawling drug operation that utilized the Southern Line railroad system. He was the only one among 74 defendants who was not apprehended after a Nebraska grand jury returned an indictment in 1985, authorities said.

But Farley’s time on the run ended Tuesday when federal agents showed up at his home in the 3,000-person town of Weirsdale, Florida. The agents arrested him as he was attempting to board a private plane in a hangar at his home, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.

Photographs of Howard D. Farley, Jr. provided for passport applications in 2020, 2008, and 1998.
Photographs of Howard D. Farley, Jr. provided for passport applications in 2020, 2008, and 1998.U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida

Farley was charged with passport fraud. He won't face charges related to the original drug case.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nebraska confirmed to NBC News that the indictment was dropped seven years ago. No further information was provided.

Federal investigators tracked down Farley after he submitted a passport application in February using the name, date of birth and social security number of an infant, not related to him, who had died in 1955.

The child, identified by the initials T.B., was from Lake Worth and died at the age of 3 months, according to the criminal complaint.

Investigators discovered that Farley had used the dead infant’s identity when he applied for passports in 1987, 1998 and 2008, the complaint says. He also used it to obtain a driver’s license and a fraudulent pilot’s license, according to the complaint.

A fingerprint comparison confirmed that the man living at the house was the wanted drug trafficking suspect, prosecutors said.

Farley was residing with an unidentified Vietnamese woman and his passport indicated that he had traveled to the country in 2018, the complaint says. A gun was discovered inside the home, prosecutors said.

The passport fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. A bond hearing was set for Thursday.

“He maintains his innocence and we will vigorously defend this case,” his lawyer, Fritz Scheller, said.