Nebraska ‘drug kingpin’ on the lam for 35 years caught by passport fraud, feds say

Someone’s still trying to travel abroad.

A former drug trafficker suspected of moving tons of narcotics was on the lam for 35 years before federal authorities arrested him for passport fraud Tuesday in Florida, the Justice Department said.

Howard Farley, a 72-year-old Nebraska ex-pat, was charged with numerous drug crimes in 1985, but never showed for his trial. Investigators called him the “drug kingpin” of the Southern Line, a railroad known for carrying narcotics.

Rather than face the music, Farley assumed the identity of an infant who died in 1955 and began a new life in Florida, feds say. Of the 74 people charged in the 1985 indictment, Farley was the only one to escape.

Howard Farley Jr.

It worked pretty well for more than three decades. Farley even obtained three passports using the dead child’s name, first receiving one in 1987 and then successfully renewing it twice, according to a criminal complaint.

The feds protected the name of the long-dead infant, referring to them only as “T.B.” Impersonating T.B., Farley also got a Florida driver’s license and a federal pilot’s license, the complaint said. From 2007 to 2020, he lived with an unidentified woman born in Vietnam and even traveled to the country in 2018.

The jig was up in February 2020, when a fraud detector noticed that someone who died in 1955 should not have been capable of registering social security information in 1983, when Farley did so in the infant’s name.

Investigators finally found him as he attempted to board a private plane at his new home in Weirsdale, about 50 miles northwest of Orlando.

Presumably in addition to the 1985 drug charges, Farley is charged with passport fraud that carries a maximum 10-year sentence.

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