Randy Lanier, who in 1988 was sentenced to life in prison for his role as a “super drug kingpin” smuggling marijuana into the U.S. using speedboats, has been released from prison, suddenly and under somewhat mysterious circumstances. The case is currently sealed by a federal judge, though Florida has been in the process of reviewing long-term, drug-related prison sentences in an effort to de-crowd prisons, and it would appear that Lanier was a beneficiary of this movement, though that hasn’t been explicitly stated.
Lanier is a rather fascinating character who used his illegal drug earnings to finance his road-racing team. He met some success in that pursuit, and was named Indy 500 Rookie of the Year in 1986. This was just before he was indicted, along with Ben Kramer and his father Jack Kramer, in Miami in 1986 for running "a major drug and money laundering organization." To be more specific, they were charged with bringing 600,000 pounds of weed(!) into South Florida in the mid-80s. Ben Kramer, as you may recall from this award-winning Power & Motoryacht article, was also implicated in the death of legendary Cigarette Racing Team founder Don Aronow. Lanier went on the lam in Europe and the Caribbean, before standing on a boat one day in Puerto Rico, and seeing a large ship push up and block the only entrance to the harbor. He realized the jig was up, and after a short chase was apprehended and sent back to the U.S. for trial. He was found guilty and sentenced a few days before Christmas 1988. He thought he’d never get out of jail, but as it turns out, he was wrong.