The Real Deal Miami

Rubio helped cocaine-trafficking brother become Miami Realtor

Florida senator sent letter of recommendation that didn't mention his relationship

December 31, 2015 04:30PM

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U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (Credit: Gaga Skidmore)

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (Credit: Gaga Skidmore)

Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio reportedly helped his brother-in-law, a convicted cocaine trafficker, get his Florida real estate license so he could practice in Miami.

Back in 2002, when Rubio held a senior role in the Florida House of Representatives, he wrote a letter to the Florida Division of Real Estate that recommended Orlando Cicilia for licensing, according to a report in the Washington Post.

What Rubio didn’t mention at the time was that Cicilia was married to his sister and living in his parents’ West Miami home, according to the Post.

Cicilia was arrested for cocaine trafficking in 1987 — when Rubio was only 16 years old — during a federal raid dubbed “Operation Cobra,” according to reports. He was convicted two years later for his role in distributing about $15 million worth of cocaine.

“Marco has recommended scores of Floridians for various professional positions and after Orlando paid his debt to society, Marco was happy to recommend him as well,” Todd Harris, Rubio’s presidential campaign advisor, wrote to the Washington Post in an email. “He believed Orlando should be judged on his own merits and felt it would be highly inappropriate, and could be perceived as exerting undue pressure, if his letter stated that Orlando was a relative.”

State documents show Cicilia is a licensed sales associate for Centrust Realty, a Coral Gables brokerage. His Realtor’s website shows no active listings. [Washington Post] — Sean Stewart-Muniz