Storming Las Vegas
How a Cuban-Born, Soviet-Trained Commando Took Down the Strip to the Tune of Five World-Class Hotels, Three Armored Cars, and $3 Million
by John Huddy
“In my world, you are either the hunter or the prey, and I am the hunter. Vegas was my prey. I tell my crew: Vegas makes it, Vigoa takes it.”
–Jose Vigoa[pg. 37]
When it comes to violent crime, the Las Vegas cops and casino owners thought they had seen it all. But they had never witnessed anything like Jose Vigoa.
Born in Cuba, a child of Fidel Castro’s revolution, Vigoa used his quick wits and quicker fists to trade a life of poverty and desperation for one of danger and adventure as a Soviet-trained special forces officer. Battle hardened in the killing fields of Afghanistan and Angola, Vigoa won a reputation for toughness, bravery, and coolness under fire. A brilliant military career lay ahead of him.
Then, in 1980, Castro opened Cuba’s floodgates in the Mariel boatlift, and Vigoa, like so many of his countrymen and -women, braved chaos and hardship to start a new life in America’s promised land. But involvement with the drug trade brought his dreams crashing down. Years of prison followed.
On his release, Vigoa was determined to take revenge on what he perceived as the corrupt power structure of Las Vegas. On September 20, 1998, the former Spetsnaz lieutenant launched what would be the most audacious and ruthless series of high-profile casino and armored car robberies that Las Vegas had ever seen. In a brazen sixteen-month-long reign of terror, he and his tightly disciplined crew would hit the crème de la crème of Vegas hotels: the MGM, the Desert Inn, the New York-New York, the Mandalay Bay, and the Bellagio. They struck hard and fast, then vanished without a trace. Millions of dollars were stolen. Two brave men were gunned down in cold blood; others were wounded. And yet the robberies were so well planned and executed that the police–“the stupids,” as Vigoa contemptuously referred to them–were all but helpless.
Not Lt. John Alamshaw. The twenty-three-year veteran, in charge of robbery detectives, was not giving up so easily. For him, Vigoa’s rampage was a personal affront. And he would do whatever it took, even risk his badge, to bring Vigao down.
With exclusive access to all the major players, including Vigoa and Alamshaw, veteran journalist and network producer John Huddy is the perfect man to tell the gripping never-before-told story of this harrowing true-crime drama that will leave readers breathless.
From the Hardcover edition.
- Random House Publishing Group, February 2008
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