Storming Las Vegas

Storming Las Vegas

How a Cuban-Born, Soviet-Trained Commando Took Down the Strip to the Tune of Five World-Class Hotels, Three

By John Huddy

Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9780345487452, 384pp.

Publication Date: February 19, 2008

Description

“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.



About the Author

John Huddy, a network producer and print journalist for three decades, has won two Emmys for editorial writing and on-air commentary and other national awards for producing, newswriting, and documentary filmmaking. Huddy is a former Miami Herald columnist and critic whose print and broadcast subjects have included Charles Manson, Federico Fellini, O. J. Simpson, Steve Martin, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Burt Reynolds. He lives in Granada Hills, California.



Praise For Storming Las Vegas

Advance praise for Storming Las Vegas

"[A] lurid, foot-to-the-floor account of the life and career of [a] master criminal. [Huddy] cranks up the volume early in this neon-saturated chronicle of violence and vice in Sin City. Bullets spray, glass shatters, metal pings...Writing in the nail-biting present tense, Mr. Huddy reconstructs Mr. Vigoa’s crime spree minute by minute." -- The New York Times

"Like a real-life Danny Ocean, Cuban-born gangster Jose Vigoa ransacked Sin City's strip during a two-year crime spree in the late '90s...Huddy draws surprising sympathy for the meticulous crime boss...a thought-provoking, demented Horatio Alger story." -- Entertainment Weekly

"In Cuban-born Jose Manuel Vigoa Perez and his two-year Las Vegas crime rampage, John Huddy found the perfect story for his first book...[Huddy possesses] the perfect blend of skills and experience to tell the story." -- The Seattle Times

"An elaborate true-crime account that achieves standard-bearer status in the genre...[A] captivating cat-and-mouse tale of robbery, murder and eventual incarceration. Unlike most true crime tales where the author must reconstruct from secondary sources the likely motivations and executions of particular crimes, Vigoa gave Huddy complete access in the aftermath of his crimes, going so far as to reconstruct maps and plans for each heist...Storming Las Vegas unwinds like the perfect crime novel...Meticulously researched, cunningly portrayed and ultimately a stirring look at the hubris and vanity of a criminal and killer who thought he could stay one step ahead at all times, Storming Las Vegas is a major work of crime and detection." -- Las Vegas City Life

“A classic Vegas brawl: a murderous Soviet-trained mercenary with heavy weapons versus an American cop with smarts and style. A bloody winner-takes-all shootout for control of the Strip. John Huddy insures that this tumultuous Vegas story doesn’t stay there.”
–Van Gordon Sauter, former president of CBS News, CBS Sports, and Fox News