Jorge Hernandez, a rippled ex-Army soldier with a body covered in tattoos, skyrocketed to notoriety for running one of the largest synthetic drug rings in South Florida history — then going undercover for the feds to bust over a dozen others.
After serving two years in prison, Hernandez walked free from federal prison last fall, resuming a personal training career, getting a Brazilian butt lift and vowing to reform his life.
His freedom didn’t last long.
U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents on Friday re-arrested Hernandez, 40, on new allegations that he resumed dealing drugs, even while on probation. He was booked into Miami’s Federal Detention Center. Details of the new case were not immediately available.
— Dr. Shari Schwartz (@TrialDoc) June 22, 2019
Hernandez had his first appearance in federal court on Friday. His former defense attorney, Ken Swartz, declined to comment because he no longer represents him.
The story of Hernandez and his best friend, fellow veteran Matthew Anich, first came to light in November 2015 as part of the Miami Herald’s Pipeline China series. The series chronicled a new breed of South Florida drug dealers importing synthetic drugs via the mail from China, including fentanyl, the powerful drug that has fueled a nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction.
Friday’s arrest marks yet another low for Hernandez, a University of Miami graduate fluent in Arabic who once seemed destined for great things.
Hernandez, who grew up in Hialeah, joined the Army after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving as a translator as part of an intelligence unit.
But a back injury forced him from the military. He returned to Miami and met Anich, a Marine veteran whose military career was also derailed by injury.
He and Anich opened a Fort Lauderdale tattoo shop but made their real money importing hundreds of kilos of methylone and ethylone, synthetic drugs marketed as Molly in South Florida clubs.
Hernandez frequented strip clubs, employed a cadre of romantic conquests to wire money to Chinese suppliers, drove a $100,000 Bentley paid for in cash and lived in various waterfront condos.
Their Miami lifestyle came crashing down when Anich’s angry girlfriend, a porn star named Selena Rose, got into a fight with him, then tipped off police to the Molly operation.
Anich secretly cooperated against Hernandez, who in turn helped HSI agents build their far-reaching case. In all, the U.S. Attorney’s Office convicted over a dozen people in various cases, with all but one pleading guilty.
The only one to go to trial was Mario Melton, the son of Miami lobbyist Eston “Dusty” Melton. Jurors convicted him of helping use the family’s shipping business to import the drugs; he was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Melton and Anich were released from federal prison last year.
At Hernandez’s sentencing, a federal prosecutor praised Hernandez’s undercover skills while working for agents. “The best I’ve seen in my experience,” federal prosecutor Marton Gyires told a judge.
Hernandez was released from federal prison in September 2018.
He didn’t shy away from the public glare, resuming his Instagram account. But gone were the photos of Hernandez’s flashing wads of cash, partying at nightclubs and cheering at Dolphins games. Instead, he portrayed a more subdued lifestyle, posting pics of his dog, shots of TV shows he was watching and inspirational quotes.
He also appeared on a local NBC news segment, profiled as the rare male who gets a Brazilian butt lift surgery.
“I consider myself a manly man but when I see myself I’m just very unhappy,” Hernandez told NBC6.
Miami Herald staff writer Jay Weaver contributed to this report.
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