In November 2005, Karls Monzon robbed $7.4 million dollars from a warehouse at Miami International Airport. The caper was nearly identical to the plot of Goodfellas, which dramatizes the 1978 Lufthansa heist at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport. But Monzon — who conceived elements of the crime by watching TV procedurals such as Law & Order: SVU and Dateline NBC — had never seen the film. “I just found out when I got arrested. A couple of days later I heard the news and… they was telling me I was copying the movie,” Monzon told Salon in 2017.
At the time of the robbery — which is recounted in Netflix’s Heist docuseries — Monzon was a 32-year-old driver for the construction equipment company United Rentals and had no criminal record. His wife, Brandy (neé Cinnamon), had experienced several miscarriages and undergone multiple unsuccessful fertility treatments. They were desperate to adopt a child, but burdened by the expense of the process. So when Monzon’s childhood friend Onelio Diaz, a Brinks security guard, told him that cash from Miami’s Federal Reserve Bank was regularly left unguarded in an open warehouse at Miami International Airport, he hatched a plan.
After weeks of plotting, Monzon and a crew of several friends and family members carried out the robbery, ordering airport employees to the ground and grabbing six bags of cash before high-tailing away. “I didn’t even know it was a big deal. I don’t even know how much money was there. We got a couple of bags and we left,” Monzon told Salon. “Everybody got a good cut. That way we knew there would be no issues.”
But there were issues. Despite making a pact to store the stolen cash until attention died down, Monzon’s brother-in-law Jeffrey Boatwright flaunted his money, inviting attention from other criminals as well as the FBI. Monzon hired hitmen on two occasions to kidnap Boatwright and scare him into silence. The group continued to avoid detection for months, but after the FBI offered a $150,000 reward for information, a friend of Monzon’s came forward and provided a list of suspects, whose phones the FBI tapped. The hitmen Monzon had previously hired then kidnapped Boatwright a third time on their own, demanding $500,000 in ransom. Monzon refused to pay, telling them to just kill Boatwright — but the FBI heard everything on their wire taps and arrested both men in addition to Monzon’s wife and several of their associates. Monzon’s $1.2 million cut was the only money the FBI recovered. “There’s supposed to be $6 million unaccounted for but I don’t know where it is. I don’t have it,” Monzon told Salon.
After cooperating with investigators, Monzon pleaded guilty to armed robbery. In August 2006, a U.S. District Judge sentenced him to 17 years in federal prison as part of a plea deal. He was granted parole in April 2016, and spent eight months living in a halfway house after his early release. Looking back on his time in prison, Monzon recalled getting his GED and losing 160 pounds, but said the toughest part was not being able to be there for his family. “My mom almost died twice because she got a heart attack and my brother is sick, he’s got mental issues,” he told Salon. “My other brother, he went through a big accident and almost lost his legs. I was just like there was nothing I can do.”
Monzon and Brandy — who served three years for being an accessory to theft — divorced, and he never achieved his dream of fatherhood, though he does now live in Miami with his girlfriend and her child. His probation ended in 2018, and he works as a truck driver for Regulated Towing Inc, but the impact of his crime persists. “This robbery cost me my American Dream,” he explained in Heist. “I had the house, I had a wife, I just needed a child.”