Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Jesus Penalver

Real Name: Jesus Florentino Peñalver
Aliases: Jesus Gomez, Jesus Partameña, Jesus Brito
Wanted For: Drug Smuggling, Possession
Missing Since: December 1988


Details: Jesus Peñalver is a Colombian drug runner who has handled as much as $50 million of cocaine; he is wanted by the FBI. Colombian drug traffickers, such as Peñalver, wreaked havoc throughout Colombia during the 1980s. Some of the drug cartels brought cocaine and other drugs to the United States. In order to combat these cartels, the FBI set up a risky sting operation in an electronics store. The operation started in May 1987, taking place at "R.A. Communications" in Miami, Florida. This company sold sophisticated telephone systems and electronic devices. Some of the new devices at the time included cellular phones and beepers. The manager, Jay, and the receptionist, Sandy, were both highly trained FBI agents. Soon, drug traffickers came to the store, hoping to buy the latest in electronic communication devices. They were interested in several new car phones, ship-to-shore radios, and airplane telecommunications devices. Overall, they wanted untraceable communication. The employees at R.A., all FBI agents, claimed that the devices could not be traced or infiltrated by the authorities.
Within just six months, nearly all of R.A.'s customers were people associated with drug trafficking. Soon, major players of the drug trafficking underworld, such as Peñalver, began to frequent the store and its clubhouse. He came to trust the FBI agents and freely discussed his drug operations. He even made drug deals while using the company's phone. Of course, the calls were both audio and video recorded. Other drug traffickers soon joined in, making drug transactions and deals while in the clubhouse. Cartel operative Julio Marco Cruz also started making drug transactions while there.
Cruz planned on receiving over 100 kilos of cocaine in early November on a boat called the Tremelo. However, the FBI contacted the Coast Guard and on November 19, 1988, the Coast Guard seized over 800 pounds of cocaine on the Tremelo. The next day, Cruz showed up at R.A. Communications, along with his bodyguards. Surprisingly, he seemed to know nothing about his boat's capture. In order to keep his cover, agent Jay told him about the Tremelo's capture. Cruz was infuriated, but had no idea that Jay and the other agents were actually responsible. He continued to use the company's phone for his drug business.
During the fall of 1988, Peñalver began making romantic advances on Sandy. The FBI feared that she and the other agents might be in jeopardy. Therefore, they decided to end the operation, and on December 6, 1988, they brought charges against ninety-three drug traffickers. The FBI captured the majority of his traffickers, but Peñalver and Cruz slipped through getting arrested and vanished. Their whereabouts are unknown. He is 6' tall, 165 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes, and would today be 62 years old.
Three other drug runners incriminated by the R.A. sting are also wanted: Pedro Nyego, Pablo Rodriguez, and Blas Canedo.
Extra Notes: This segment originally ran on the May 2, 1990 episode.
Results: Wanted. Cruz was later arrested, but Peñalver is still at large. There is still an active warrant out for his arrest.