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SAN DIEGO -- A legendary drug trafficker who went by the name Dr. Wu and lived in a RV along North County beaches pleaded guilty in federal court to charges that will net him no more than 14 years, it was reported Sunday.
Born Michael Grabarek in 1950, he legally changed his name to Baron Michael Angelo Suarez-Rothschild and lived modestly, except for three classic Fords -- a 1969 Mustang and 1963 and 1964 Thunderbirds, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. All three bore "DR WU" vanity license plates.
According to authorities, when he was arrested in Singapore in April 2004, Suarez-Rothschild was the primary broker of a drug-smuggling ring that moved high-grade pot from British Columbia, methamphetamine from Mexico and the United States, and cocaine from South America, the Union-Tribune reported.
About 30 other people were charged in San Diego and Hawaii.
In a federal courtroom in San Diego last week, Suarez-Rothschild pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic in cocaine and launder money, and is set to be sentenced Aug. 12.
Suarez-Rothschild took his nickname from the Steely Dan of the same name, usually interpreted as being about drugs, the newspaper reported. Authorities say he used at least eight other names.
Suarez-Rothschild made money by moving drugs from spots where they were relatively cheap to where they were relatively expensive. For example, methamphetamine that goes for about $8,000 per a pound in Southern California can fetch up to $50,000 in Hawaii, the Union-Tribune reported.
Suarez-Rothschild shipped cocaine across the Pacific, hidden in boxes of clothes and toys, authorities said. He moved cash the same way, stuffing backpacks full of it into boxes he sent from Hawaii to Oceanside via United Parcel Service.
Suarez-Rothschild was facing life in prison before he agreed to plead guilty, his lawyer, David Bartick, told the newspaper.