In 2011, he made headlines in Miami when he won a bankruptcy-court auction for the high-profile home at 15 Star Island Dr. for $12.6 million. The bayfront mansion had belonged to since-convicted fraudster Claudio Osorio. Rey has put the property back on the market for $16.9 million.
In 2010, Rey was in the news in Brazil in connection with a political corruption scandal that Rey says had nothing to do with him. The newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo reported that Master Top Linhas Aereas, a Brazilian carrier that had government contracts for airmail service there, actually belonged to Rey, and was using a Brazilian " testa de ferro,'' or frontman, to disguise its ownership. Brazil, like the United States, has restrictions on foreign ownership of airlines.
Col. Eduardo Artur Rodrigues Silva, the alleged frontman, left his post as director of operations at Brazil's postal service after the report and denied any impropriety. Master Top lost its mail contracts and air license, according to news reports.
For his part, Rey told The Miami Herald he never owned Master Top, but rather had provided the company support, including "airplanes and a sales force." Rey said Rodrigues had represented him on some aviation issues in Brazil, but was never a frontman for him. "They made a major investigation. Nothing was found," Rey said. "I never get involved in politics in any country."
Rey said he gravitated to the hyper-competitive air-cargo industry, though he has no particular fondness for airplanes. He worked initially in Miami for a small Argentine-flagged cargo line -- Servicios de Transportes Aereos Fueguinos S.A., or STAF Airlines -- that years later, in 1991, he would end up buying.
"The real story of this business is my father," says Jonathan Rey, 25, who was born and raised in Miami and is director of sales, charters, and live animal operations for Aerolog, a logistics affiliate. "He started out running a forklift. He's a workaholic."
In 1997, Rey and partners launched Cielos Del Peru, a Peruvian-based carrier that operated Boeing 707F and McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30F jets. Rey said he has since sold the company.
In 2001, he bought the air operating certificate of Challenge Air, which had been the biggest all-cargo carrier to Latin America when UPS acquired its assets in 2000. He renamed the business Centurion, marking the beginning of his U.S.-flagged cargo business with U.S. planes flown by U.S. pilots.
Plans for the new MIA headquarters were launched in 2007. Centurion joined with Annapolis, Md.-based Aeroterm to negotiate a 30-year lease with Miami-Dade for 43 acres of airport land along Northwest 36th Street west of LeJeune Road. Much of the space in the northeast corner of MIA once had been occupied by Eastern Air Lines and remained underutilized since its demise in 1991.
Under the agreement, Centurion assigned the lease to Aeroterm, a specialist in airport-terminal development, which designed and built the $130 million facility. Aeroterm and Bristol Group Inc., a San Francisco-based real estate investment and development firm, put up the money for the project. Centurion, in turn, is leasing it back from Aeroterm, which has done other projects at MIA, including developing the FedEx and LAN facilities.
A blizzard of obstacles, including the recession and delays in removing tenants from the space, stalled the start of the project, which finally broke ground in November 2011. Stiles Construction built the facility.
An old metal-plating shop located on the site was heavily contaminated and proved to be a major environmental challenge, costing several million dollars to resolve.
"Neither we nor the airport knew there was such a level of contaminants," said Erin Gruver, executive vice president of Aeroterm, who oversaw the project. "There were sub-surface contaminants. The walls, the slab, were all saturated."
To work around the cleanup, workers erected the eastern and western ends of the new facility first, moving toward the middle, where the contaminated facility was located. The structure was decontaminated and gingerly dismantled. Debris was sent to special, lined landfills, Gruver said.
Miami International Airport, the air freight gateway for Latin America and the Caribbean, imported and exported nearly one million tons of cargo during 2004.
The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority could lease the building to a company that would use it to handle cut flowers imported from South America.
D/FW Redirect New International Centre is the first step in an aggressive plan to expand import/export services BY John Boyce, contributing editor September 1999 DFW AIRPORT...