Feds: ‘Drug kingpin’ wanted since 1985 assumed fake identity for decades before being arrested in Marion County

WEIRSDALE, Fla. — A man wanted for more than three decades for his involvement in a railroad drug ring was arrested Wednesday in Marion County, federal investigators said.

Howard Farley Jr., 72, who investigators described as a “drug kingpin,” was arrested in Weirsdale after officials said he’d been living under a fake identity since 1985.

According to a criminal complaint that referred to Farley as “John Doe,” around February of this year he submitted a passport application using the name, date of birth, and Social Security number of an infant who died in 1955.

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Investigators said Farley had been living under that child’s name since 1985 when he evaded custody after being indicted by a federal grand jury in Nebraska charged with a narcotics conspiracy.

Records show that Farley was the only defendant, out of 73, that was not apprehended in the case. Investigators said Farley was alleged to be the “drug kingpin” of a railroad line that was used by the drug dealers to distribute narcotics throughout the U.S.

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Investigators said at the time of his arrest, Farley was attempting to board his private aircraft in the hangar at his Weirsdale home. They said he flew using a fraudulent pilot’s license in the name of the deceased child.

Investigators said when they searched his home, they found a firearm inside.

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Previously, they said Farley was convicted of burglary in 1970 in Nebraska.

If convicted on the charges of passport fraud for which he was arrested on Wednesday, officials said Farley faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.