Untold story of Tiger King’s Mario Tabraue: Ex-drug lord accused of killing his wife
He’s one of the most normal people in the doc, yet he stuffed drugs inside snakes
It says a lot when one of the most normal seeming people featured in a documentary is an ex-drug dealer who is accused of covering up a murder. But that’s exactly the case of Netflix’s Tiger King and the feature of Mario Tabraue.
Tabraue is introduced in the documentary as being one of Miami’s biggest ever drug dealers and owner of a extensive private zoo which nobody can gain access to. He’s a mysterious character, with lots of skeletons in his closet. He’s everything you need to know about him.
Mario Tabraue is from Cuba and he was one of the biggest drug dealers in Miami
In the 1980s, Mario Tabraue was a notorious drug dealer operating in Florida. He was the leader of a 10-year-old drug ring which was the biggest in Miami. Miami Herald described the gang as “one of South Florida’s most prolific and violent drug gangs” and Tabraue was named the Chairman of the Board.
Mario Tabraue and his father Guillermo were said to be “untouchable” at the time and had “ownership” over local police and politicians. In the Netflix documentary Tiger King, Mario admits: “I sold drugs to maintain my animal habit”.
But now he owns a private zoo
Mario Tabraue is now the owner and founder of the Zoological Wildlife foundation in Miami. Notoriously, nobody has ever been able to infiltrate the facilities Mario Tabraue owns, which is under 24-hour surveillance and has security at the gates.
Mark McCarthy, a former employee of Mario’s, is interviewed in the documentary. He explains how Mario Tabraue owns the “coolest” animals of everyone. He has cheetahs, leopards, tigers, black jaguars, snow leopards and clouded leopards all in a private collection at his home. The zoo is not open to the public.
Mark also explains how Mario would smuggle bags of drugs inside snakes and stitch them back up, with no regard of whether they lived or died.
Netflix managed to gain access to Mario’s uber-private life. Mario says people like Carole Baskin use him as a “poster” for people who shouldn’t keep animals because he’s a convicted felon, but Mario argues he did his time.
In his height, Mario was worth tens of millions
At the height of his drug operation, the Miami Herald reported that Tabraue was the alleged leader of a 10-year-long drug operation in the 1980s worth about $79 million. He also owns his private zoo and mansion, which are worth millions alone.
Mario Tabraue is said to be the ‘prototype for Scarface’
Mario himself says people refer to him as being the prototype for Scarface. Mark McCarthy adds that people would drive past his house and shout “Tony Montana”. It is said that Mario’s dark past is what inspired the movie character Tony Montana.
According to Distractify, his huge estate includes mirrored ceilings and a huge a “throne” like Montana’s in the movie with his initials on it: MT (versus TM in the film).
Mario Tabraue was accused of covering up the murder of a police informant
In 1987, Tabraue was arrested and charged in a federal racketeering indictment that included murder, drug trafficking, corruption and obstruction of justice. The case went to trial two years later.
At the trial, Mario was accused of covering up the murder, mutilation and cremation of a federal drug informant. The informant was Larry Nash, and Mario says people who worked for him shot Larry and panicked and dumped the body on Mario’s land. Larry had been part of huge ongoing marijuana trafficking operation called “Operation Cobra” – in reference to Mario’s use of snakes. At the time, Mario’s cartel had been caught smuggling drugs worth around half a million dollars and were also accused of bribing officers.
They decided together to cut him up and burn him. Mario claims he “didn’t do most of the stuff” but “carries the stigma for it”. At the trial, it is reported that witnesses described how Tabraue and an associate dismembered the informant’s body using a circular saw, after finding that a machete wouldn’t do the job. They then placed it in a horse trough and burned it using charcoal and lighter fluid.
Mario was sentenced to 100 years, but won an appeal and was freed after 12 years. He is said to have been compliant with authorities and worked as an informant in prison.
Mario Tabraue was also accused of killing his first wife
In 1981, Tabraue’s first wife Maria died. In his trial he was also accused of shooting her 10 times and killing her. According to the Miami Herald, the two were getting a divorce and Maria had threatened to expose her husband’s drug dealings. The jury could not agree on his guilt in this murder and Mario was cleared.
Mario is verified on Instagram and has nearly 50k followers
Since the Netflix Tiger King documentary, it seems like life has returned to normal for Mario Tabraue. His verified Instagram profile is full of him sharing photos of the animals at his private zoo. He’s also been sharing on his story the positive feedback he’s been getting since the Netflix documentary was released. He has just under 50k followers and his handle is @mariowildlife.
It is unclear if Maria, his wife who featured in Tiger King, and Mario are still together, but she is still listed as working at Mario’s private zoo. Mario also shares a lot of photographs of him with a new girlfriend, Vanessa Castellanos Valencia. Vanessa shared a picture of them together, captioned: “Never thought I’d feel this way about you. Thank you for being mine. I love you”.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is available to watch on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.