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Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Criminales en Cuba. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Criminales en Cuba. Mostrar todas las entradas

jueves, enero 29, 2015

The US does not know how many fugitives are in Cuba: U.S.-Cuba extradition treaty lacking


The United States does not know how many fugitives are in Cuba.
Nobody tracks it. Nobody even routinely asks for the return of those wanted on serious federal charges, much less more common state offenses, the Sun Sentinel has found.
Law enforcement officials on state and federal levels say paperwork is rarely filed in Washington to request diplomatic assistance out of a sense that doing so would be futile. The United States has no working extradition treaty with Cuba.
"I could request Mars send someone back and we'd probably have better luck" said Ryan Stumphauzer, a former U.S. assistant state attorney in Miami who prosecuted Medicare cheats, most of them Cuban-born. "We know Cuba is not sending anybody back."
Since President Obama's surprise shift in December toward normalizing relations with the Communist-led nation, some members of Congress have demanded that Cuba hand over fugitives. The irony: law enforcement isn't regularly seeking their return.
Last week, three U.S. senators, including Florida's Marco Rubio, asked the FBI to produce the names of fugitives in Cuba and copies of their indictments. No complete list is likely to be forthcoming.
There is no formal mechanism in use to request extradition, no centrally collected records nationwide of how many likely are on the run in Cuba, and no coordination among counties or states on the issue, the Sun Sentinel has found.
Even in Miami-Dade County, where most Cuban-Americans live, state prosecutors do not log or tally fugitives thought to be in Cuba.
"It's not like we send up to Justice our Christmas list of potential felons," said Ed Griffith, spokesman for the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.
In recent weeks the U.S. Marshals Office in South Florida has been scrambling to compile a list of people possibly hiding in Cuba, in case the Castro government suddenly agrees to expel such fugitives.
"We want to be prepared," said Marshals Office spokesman Barry Golden.
The Sun Sentinel, in a recent far-reaching investigation into Cuban crime rings in America, disclosed that Cuban nationals are taking advantage of generous U.S. immigration laws to come to the U.S. and steal billions from government programs and businesses.
Millions of dollars have traveled back to Cuba, and many individuals flee there when police close in on scams the Cubans specialize in. These typically involve health care, auto insurance, or credit card fraud; cargo theft; or marijuana trafficking, the Sun Sentinel found.
The Sun Sentinel located one fugitive wanted in a million dollar Texas credit card fraud case living in Santa Clara, Cuba. He'd written to the judge in his case in 2013, saying he "went to the U.S. to steal" and included his return address in Cuba.
Prosecutors had no evidence he was actually in Cuba and had not sought his return. "We can't extradite from Cuba. We wouldn't reach out to the State Department in a case like that," said Scott Carpenter of the District Attorney's Office in Fort Bend County, Texas.
In the occasional diplomatic talks, high-level U.S. officials have brought up the issue of fugitives in Cuba — usually the cases of prominent violent offenders, such as New Jersey cop killer Joanne Chesimard, a member the militant Black Liberation Army who fled to Cuba 30 years ago and was given political asylum.
How these appeals happen are a mystery to most street level investigators and prosecutors who simply don't bother filing voluminous records to Washington because the process is cumbersome, costly and likely fruitless.
"As far as them putting together a package for extradition, I guarantee that isn't happening," said Humberto Dominguez, a Miami criminal defense lawyer. "It would be worse if they did: it would be such a waste of taxpayer dollars."
Why send the paperwork to Cuba, he asked. "So they can utilize it as a bathroom implement?"
No answers or records
John Caulfield, chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana until 2014, said that for many years, American officials figured "there was no point in talking to the Cubans" because they didn't expect any cooperation.
But he said he'd tell individuals in law enforcement that if you don't ask, you don't know what will happen. "We were surprised in some cases" when the U.S. asked for someone's return and got it.
In the past decade, Cuban officials have returned a handful of criminals: Kidnappers. Child abusers. An insurance fraudster and others.
Neither the Department of State nor the Department of Justice will answer questions about how many fugitives the U.S. has sought to have returned, who, or even whether, state and federal prosecutors request extradition.
In recent months, the agencies have provided the Sun Sentinel with the same prepared statement three times: "The United States continues to seek the return from Cuba of fugitives from U.S. justice, and repeatedly raises their cases with the Government of Cuba."
Said Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr: "We generally do not disclose if requests are made or provide information on whether specific cases have been brought before different foreign authorities."
In March, the Sun Sentinel filed a Freedom of Information request with the Justice Department seeking copies of requests from prosecutors for the return of Cuban nationals wanted for felonies since 2007. The newspaper also sought records showing what efforts were made to inform Cuban authorities or US diplomats in Cuba of a fugitive's possible presence in Cuba.
The agency replied that it "failed to locate any responsive records."
The Sun Sentinel has received no records under a similar request made nine months ago to the State Department.
American University Professor William LeoGrande, a specialist in Latin American politics, said Cuba has had difficulty getting solid information from the Justice Department on fugitives the U.S. wants. "I've had a Cuban official tell me they couldn't even get confirmation that this was the right person."
Teddy Roosevelt's treaty
It's widely assumed that the U.S. has no extradition treaty with Cuba. In fact, one was signed in 1904 under President Theodore Roosevelt. Its use was suspended in the 1960s after Fidel Castro came to power.
"You often hear that the extradition treaty between the U.S. and Cuba has been abandoned. That's not so," said Robert Muse, a Washington attorney and expert on Cuban-related law. "It's listed by the State Department as a treaty in force. This agreement exists, it's just in abeyance."
Requesting extradition from any country is a long, formal, onerous effort, guided by the terms of each treaty.
Prosecutors must assemble affidavits stating the facts of the case; texts of relevant criminal statutes; certified copies of arrest warrants and indictments; evidence such as court transcripts, photographs and fingerprints of the criminal; and any conviction papers.
An original and four copies must be sent to the Justice Department's Office of International Affairs in Washington, which translates the material and funnels it to the State Department. Prosecutors are warned not to contact foreign countries directly.
Appeals are made by American Embassy officials through "diplomatic note," accompanied by the thick bundle of documents certified and secured with an official seal and red ribbon.
Though federal officials in Miami know that dozens of Medicare fraud fugitives who stole millions fled to Cuba, "Why would the government file extradition requests when there isn’t even a treaty to proceed under?” said Stumphauzer, who left the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami in 2011.
Asked what federal agents do when they learn a Medicare fraudster has taken off to Cuba, one current investigator explained: they throw up their hands and say: "Oh crap," knowing the likelihood of recovering someone is low.
State and local officials, too, make no attempts at extradition.
Miami-Dade Police Sgt. Henry Sacramento, whose team repeatedly arrests Cubans in marijuana grow houses, said: "We just put a warrant in the system and hope they make a mistake in coming back into the country again."
"As far as extradition from Cuba," he said, "I don't know of anyone that's tried to do that."
Count unclear
The Jan. 23rd letter Rubio and the two other senators sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting a list of all fugitives the FBI believes are living in Cuba, notes "there is little definitive information about their cases available publicly."
The senators wrote that there are longtime murderers and airplane hijackers in Cuba, but also "numerous others guilty of lesser but still important crimes, including money laundering and health care fraud."
For years, members of Congress have accused Cuba of harboring 70 to 80 fugitives: most of whom fled there decades ago
More recently, the FBI in Miami has compiled a spreadsheet showing 20 Medicare fugitives thought to be hiding in Cuba.
The Sun Sentinel, in its investigation, found references in court or police records to an additional 50 wanted in other frauds, cargo theft or marijuana trafficking.
The count could be far higher.
There are 500 Cuban-born fugitives wanted on federal charges and at least another 500 wanted on state charges in Florida alone. They could be anywhere in the world, according to records provided by the U.S. Marshals Service and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
FDLE does not require country of birth to be filled out consistently on warrants, so it's impossible to fully determine exactly how many are from Cuba or may have gone back there.
Proving a criminal is in Cuba can be difficult. At times authorities know a fugitive boarded a charter flight for Cuba, but in other cases they have only the word of a family member to go on — and that person may lie to throw police off the track.
"There's no method of confirming that somebody has fled, either directly to Cuba or indirectly through another country, because we don't have communication with anyone in Cuba to verify that," said Golden, the Marshals Service spokesman.
Some criminal defense lawyers representing Cuban offenders believe thousands of fugitives may have returned there.
Fort Myers defense attorney Rene Suarez, who represents Cuban clients, said public estimates of fugitives in Cuba are typically "big, federal type cases."
"But most of these folks that have gone back, they're not federal cases. The vast majority are just state charges that are tracked county by county," he said.
Asked if there could be hundreds hiding in Cuba, he said: "No … there's got to be thousands of them."
Staff writer William E. Gibson and correspondent Tracey Eaton contributed to this report.

domingo, enero 25, 2015

Cuba detuvo a fugitivo de la justicia estadounidense refugiado en la isla

“Se tiraron con la guagua andando”, dice un comentarista sobre la foto de unos lujosos regalos navideños publicada en la página de Facebook que el reguetonero cubano Gilberto Martínez Suárez mantenía en la Web bajo su nombre artístico de Gilbert Man.
La frase del argot popular cubano se le podría aplicar al uso que Suárez hizo de dineros que, al menos en parte, obtuvo ilegalmente en Estados Unidos mediante el uso de tarjetas de crédito falsas y robo de identidades.
Carnet de Identidad expedido en Cuba a Gilberto Martínez Suárez en marzo del 2014
Carnet de Identidad expedido en Cuba a Gilberto Martínez Suárez en marzo del 2014
Por ello fue acusado en el condado floridano Miami-Dade en septiembre pasado, y antes, en mayo del 2013, en el condado  de Martin. Pero pagó una fianza y escapó a Cuba. Diez meses después las autoridades de la isla le expidieron un carnet de identidad que fue mostrado, al destapar la historia la semana pasada, por el programa Las Dos Orillas del canal America Teve.
Pero la ropa de Gucci y zapatos y accesorios de Louis Vuitton mostrados en las fotos palidecen ante el despliegue de ostentación, comparable a la de un capo de las drogas, que Suárez hacía rutinariamente desde Cuba en las redes sociales. En especial desde la mansión habilitada con muebles importados y baldosas españolas que construyó en el suburbio habanero de Guanabacoa: rejas de hierro forjado, piscina con bar y jacuzzi, un enorme garaje donde mantenía entre otros vehículos dos motocicletas y al menos cinco autos, todos modernos y caros (un Camaro, un Saab, un Hyundai, un Audi y un BMW); y hasta un par de pavorreales en el jardín.
Ostentación: parte de su dinero lo obtuvo Gilbert Man de fraudes con tarjetas de crédito en EE.UU.
Ostentación: parte de su dinero lo obtuvo Gilbert Man de fraudes con tarjetas de crédito en EE.UU.
El alarde incluye una foto de Gilbert Man con varios fajos de dólares entre su bíceps y su antebrazo derechos, y un reguetón donde aparece ante una virtual alfombra de billetes verdes y dice tener “mucho dinero en el banco”.
La noticia, sin embargo no es ésa: se había vuelto habitual para las autoridades estadounidenses descubrir que cubanos acusados en
Estados Unidos de fraudes al Medicare, a las compañías de seguros de autos o a las tarjetas de crédito, huían a la isla a disfrutar de lo robado, con la seguridad de que nunca serían molestados ni extraditados. En algunos casos transferían su botín a bancos cubanos, como en el de Jorge Emilio Pérez, quien a través de su compañía de envío de dinero Caribbean Transfers, envió a la isla 30 millones de dólares.
Fuerzas élite del MININT custodian la casa allanada del fugitivo de la justicia de EE.UU. Gilberto Martínez Sánchez (ATV).
Fuerzas élite del MININT custodian la casa allanada del fugitivo de la justicia de EE.UU. Gilberto Martínez Sánchez (ATV).
La noticia es justamente que Suárez, uno de estos fugitivos fue detenido por fuerzas élite del Ministerio del Interior dos días después de que el diario Sun-Sentinel de Fort Lauderdale publicara el fruto de un año de investigaciones, incluidas las que realizó en Cuba, sobre este “ferrocarril subterráneo” de la delincuencia que, según el diario, denota un abuso de la Ley de Ajuste Cubano.
Y también menos de un mes después de que los gobiernos de Cuba y Estados Unidos anunciaran su intención de restablecer y normalizar sus relaciones.
En noviembre, Gilbert Man había convencido a la revista cubana de entretenimiento Vistar de que había regresado a Cuba como un hombre de negocios atraído "por el olor de la isla" y con el propósito de ayudar a impulsar la música urbana.
En un reportaje sobre el caso publicado este sábado el Sun-Sentinel señala que en las últimas dos semanas el Servicio de Alguaciles de EE.UU. ha estado compilando una lista de fugitivos que se cree se encuentran en Cuba. “Por si acaso cambian las cosas”, dijo al diario el portavoz del servicio, Barry Golden, refiriéndose a la posibilidad de que el gobierno de Cuba acceda a extraditar a los fugitivos de la justicia estadounidense, o al menos a los que no considera perseguidos políticos. Golden indicó al Sentinel que “parece que [Suárez] ha sido detenido”.
A diferencia de los delincuentes profesionales, Gilbert Man, de 28 años, adorado según consta en su Facebook por fans y cobeneficiarios de su malhabida riqueza, se incineró en la hoguera de las vanidades, convirtiéndose en el chivo expiatorio perfecto.
Queda por ver si en los nuevos tiempos que corren será enviado de regreso a enfrentar la justicia de EE.UU. Y si después de él otros seguirán regresando. Esposados.

viernes, enero 23, 2015

Senators Press Justice Department on Fugitives Harbored in Cuba

In light of President Obama’s decision to transfer three convicted foreign intelligence agents in federal custody to Cuba, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), David Vitter (R-LA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) today pressed Attorney General Eric Holder for answers on the status of U.S. cop killers and other fugitives that the Castro regime is harboring, as well as the threats posed to the U.S. legal system by the administration’s unilateral concessions to Cuba, including its possible removal from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List:

January 23, 2015
The Honorable Eric Holder
Attorney General
Department of Justice
Robert F. Kennedy Building
Tenth Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Attorney General Holder:

We are writing to express our strong concern about the Department of Justice’s role in President Obama’s recent announcement of a change in U.S. policy toward Cuba and to pose several questions related to your Department’s actions on this issue.

As Attorney General, you serve as our country’s chief law enforcement officer. You are expected to ensure the credibility of the American legal system and as well as help to protect and defend the American people.

We were thus troubled to learn that you played a role in the President’s decision to transfer three convicted foreign intelligence agents from federal custody to Cuba. As you know, in addition to their infiltration of the Cuban-American community for espionage, one of the individuals in question was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder related to the downing of civilian planes operated by the U.S. humanitarian group Brothers to the Rescue in international airspace.

We have several questions regarding their cases:
  • Was there a formal assessment conducted of the consequences for the credibility of the U.S. justice system of releasing individuals that were not just convicted foreign intelligence agents, but also a convicted accessory to murder?
  • Why was there no effort made by the U.S. government to provide an explanation to the families of the murdered victims about this prisoner release before it took place or in the immediate aftermath of President Obama’s announcement?
Related to the same 1996 incident, in a recent press report, a member of Congress recounted being told by Cuban President Raul Castro that, “I gave the order. I’m the one responsible,” for the shoot down. This information sheds new light on the 1996 events and bolsters previous evidence of Castro’s culpability in this heinous crime.
  • Has the Justice Department discussed this conversation with the member of Congress in question and does the Justice Department rule out the indictment of President Castro for murder given his apparent admission of guilt for the murder of three American citizens?
Another issue that falls under your Department’s jurisdiction is the effort to seek the return of fugitives from justice who have fled to other countries. As you know, there are reportedly more than seventy such individuals who have sought refuge in Cuba and are currently being harbored by the Castro regime. These include such violent criminals as Joanne Chesimard, who the FBI regards as a “domestic terrorist” and was named to the FBI’s Most Wanted List in 2013, as well as Victor Manuel Gerena, Charles Hill and others. Chesimard and Hill were both involved in the murders of American police officers. There are numerous others guilty of lesser but still important crimes, including money laundering and health care fraud. While the United States government has publicly described the situation related to these fugitives in reports in the past, there is little definitive information about their cases available publicly. We agree with the President of the Fraternal Order of Police, who recently wrote to President Obama that, “The blood of American law enforcement officers doing their job on American soil is too high a price to pay for closer ties with the Cuban regime.”

We would like the following information and questions answered about these American fugitives from justice:
  • Please provide a list of all fugitives from justice that the FBI considers likely to be harbored in Cuba.
  • Please provide copies of the indictments of each of the individuals on this list.
  • As the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, do you support the normalization of relations with Cuba without the return of fugitives from justice for prosecution who have the blood of Americans, including law enforcement officers on their hands?
  • As the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, do you support the removal of Cuba from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism if the Castro government continues to harbor “domestic terrorists” such as Joanne Chesimard?
As the facts of these cases show, the actions of the individuals in question have deprived some Americans of their lives and affected the lives and well-being of countless others.  Attempting to gloss over the facts of their crimes against the United States is an insult to the values and ethics of our judicial system and those same ideals that you, as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer, are supposed to uphold.

We thus look forward to your answers to all of these questions, which we also intend to consider as part of the confirmation process of your successor.

Sincerely,

Senator Marco Rubio

Senator David Vitter

Senator Ted Cruz

sábado, enero 10, 2015

The Cuban Criminal Pipeline - Part I: Exploiting U.S. Laws

SunSentinel.com
By Sally Kestin, Megan O'Matz and John Maines, with Tracey Eaton in Cuba
Photography and videography by Taimy Alvarez
U.S. policy created for humanitarian reasons 50 years ago has fueled a criminal pipeline from Cuba to Florida, enabling crooks from the island to rob American businesses and taxpayers of more than $2 billion over two decades.
A yearlong Sun Sentinel investigation found money stolen in the United States streaming back to Cuba, and a revolving door that allows thieves to come here, make a quick buck and return.
Cuba has become a bedroom community for criminals who exploit America’s good will.
“There’s a whole new sub-class of part-time residents that flow back and forth,’’ said Rene Suarez, a Fort Myers attorney who represents Cubans charged in criminal schemes. “They tell me stories and live very comfortably in Cuba with the illegitimate money that they’re able to obtain here in the United States.”
The Sun Sentinel traveled to Cuba, examined hundreds of court documents, and obtained federal data never before made public to provide the first comprehensive look at a criminal network facilitated by U.S. law.
The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, a remarkable act of Congress passed at the height of the Cold War, gives Cubans advantages over every other immigrant group.
Cubans are allowed to enter the United States without visas or background checks of their criminal histories in Cuba. Unlike other immigrants seeking political asylum, Cubans can return home without jeopardizing their status, aiding crime rings that recruit accomplices and hide stolen money in Cuba.
The law has remained largely unchanged while financial and travel restrictions between the two countries have loosened, priming the system for abuse.
Strained relations between the countries make it nearly impossible to capture criminals who flee to the island. They also make it nearly impossible to deport criminals to Cuba after they serve their sentences in the U.S., as would be the case with criminals from most other countries. The crooks can stay here, free to steal again.
Cuban crime rings are staging car accidents for insurance fraud, hijacking trucks, and selling their Medicare numbers to provide for their families in Cuba. They’re smuggling money from these illegal enterprises on charter flights to Cuba, paying mules to take cash back and wiring dollars through Western Union.

“Some of these folks are basically funding life in Cuba for their families,” said Miami-Dade Police Lt. Jose Gonzalez, whose detectives dismantle marijuana grow houses run mostly by Cuban nationals. “These people are going to Cuba weekly or monthly. These are citizens of Cuba commuting here to work.”
This free flow of criminals and cash has made a mockery of the two pillars of U.S. policy toward Cuba: the trade embargo designed to financially choke the Castro government and the special immigration rules that envisioned a one-way path for Cubans to escape communism.
Cuba’s state-controlled economy benefits from the illicit money. In one South Florida insurance scam alone, ringleaders sent millions back to the island and the Cuban government seized $200,000.
Long known as a safe haven for fugitives from America and other countries, Cuba now is harboring scores of its own citizens wanted for economic crimes in the U.S.
Fugitive Angel Ricardo Mendoza is a lifeguard at this beach in Sante Fe, Cuba. Mendoza is wanted on charges of diverting a truck with $180,000 in nickles from the Federal Reserve in 2004. Agents never found $45,000 or Mendoza, who still carries his U.S. identification cards.
The Sun Sentinel found and interviewed fugitives living openly on the island, including one wanted on charges he stole a semi-trailer loaded with $180,000 in nickels from the Federal Reserve. Another, charged in a $1 million credit-card fraud ring, had boasted that he went to the U.S. to steal and taunted authorities to “come to Cuba to look for me.”
In unveiling his initiative to “promote greater openness with Cuba” last month, President Obama did not address whether immigration rules should be tightened, or whether the U.S. will be able to deport some 34,500 convicted Cuban criminals and force Cuba to return fugitives never brought to justice here.
Members of Congress interviewed about the Sun Sentinel’s findings say the ease with which Cuban criminal networks can operate in the U.S. must be part of a wide-ranging discussion on increased engagement with the country that has stood as America’s nearest enemy for five decades.
Special Status
Criminals are corrupting the intent of the Cuban Adjustment Act: to provide refuge to those fleeing Fidel Castro and communism.
Cubans need only touch U.S. soil to be admitted to the country. They’re automatically considered political refugees and are immediately eligible for welfare, food stamps and other assistance. After a year and a day, they can obtain permanent residency, known as a green card.
Immigrants from other countries can wait years for visas just to be admitted to the U.S., and then wait years more for government benefits. Those fleeing persecution risk losing their asylum if they return to their home countries before becoming U.S. citizens.
More than 1 million Cubans have come to the U.S. since the 1959 Communist revolution, creating one of America’s most prosperous immigrant communities. While the overwhelming majority are law-abiding, a small faction has come to specialize in certain, mostly economic, crimes.
The federal government has long pointed to the prevalence of Cuban immigrants in Medicare fraud, as first reported in the Miami Herald, but authorities never quantified it. The Sun Sentinel analyzed court bookings data and found that Cuba natives, operating primarily in South Florida, are so prolific they account for less than one percent of the U.S. population but are responsible for 41 percent of arrests nationwide for health-care fraud.
The reach of Cuban crime rings extends far beyond ripping off the U.S. government health program for the elderly and disabled.
In Miami-Dade County, where 24 percent of the population was born in Cuba, immigrants from the island account for 73 percent of arrests for health-care fraud; 72 percent of arrests for cargo theft; 59 percent of arrests for marijuana trafficking; and half the arrests for credit-card and insurance fraud.

Crime wave

U.S. policy gives Cubans special treatment over every other immigrant group, facilitating an underground criminal network that has spread from South Florida throughout the nation. Immigrants born in Cuba are disproportionately represented in arrests for certain crimes. Here are the percentages of arrestees since 2000 who were Cuban-born:

Arrests in Miami-Dade County*

24% of the county's population is Cuban-born

Federal arrests in Florida

4 percent of the state's population is Cuban-born

Federal arrests nationwide

Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population is Cuban-born
*Miami-Dade County statistics include state and federal charges.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts, U.S. Census Bureau. Population estimates are based on the 2013 five-year average. Federal arrest data from 2000 to mid-December 2014. Miami-Dade arrest data from 2000 to June 2014.

Among Cuban-born defendants sentenced to federal prison for these crimes, two out of three are still Cuban citizens.
Their take: more than $2 billion since 1994, a conservative tally based on restitution ordered in federal cases and a Sun Sentinel sampling of state cases in Florida.
Alex Acosta, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said Medicare thieves alone steal more than $2 billion each year in South Florida.
“The United States has opened its doors to Cuban refugees under the Cuban Adjustment Act,” said Acosta, the son of Cuban immigrants who is now dean of the Florida International University law school. “That is an extraordinary immigration offer that the United States has done for political and humanitarian reasons, and it is offensive that these individuals are abusing that.
“It’s equally offensive that the Castro regime is allowing them to do so and profiting from crime in the United States.”



The close ties that the criminals have to Cuba and the involvement of many new arrivals has spurred speculation among investigators, prosecutors and even members of Congress about whether the Cuban government is behind the fraud. Cuba denies it.
The Sun Sentinel’s review of hundreds of court cases found many of those charged had arrived without visas and would have been refused entry and sent home had they not been Cuban. Others were convicted repeatedly of ripping off businesses and the government, but could not be deported.
Among them:
⚫ A Cuban national convicted twice for theft before he joined a Palm Beach County credit-card fraud ring that stole $750,000.
⚫ Another who allowed his name to appear as owner of a North Miami Beach pharmacy that stole $695,000 from Medicare in two months; he was paid $10,000 for his signature and $40,000 to go back to Cuba.
⚫ Two Miami Cuban citizens with multiple convictions who are charged as leaders in a 48-person, multi-state ring that stole $500 million in prescription drugs from Medicaid.
U.S. policy toward Cuba has made America an easy mark for criminals coming from an impoverished nation, said Scott Stewart, vice president of analysis at Stratfor, a global intelligence firm based in Austin, Texas, and author of a report on organized crime in Cuba.
“We’re so rich, and we’re so close,” he said. “It’s a very good environment for them to operate in.”
Cash to Cuba
A massive South Florida fraud ring that stole millions from auto insurers in recent years shows how U.S. policy benefits the criminals and allows them to easily return with ill-gotten cash, a possibility policymakers never intended.
The $18 million fraud involved 21 clinics in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties and more than 100 mostly-Cuban participants. They staged accidents, smashing cars with a sledgehammer, and billed insurers for treatment of nonexistent injuries.

Ties to Cuba

A ring that staged car accidents in South Florida involving 21 clinics and $18 million in fraudulent insurance claims shows how Cuban criminals have exploited U.S. policy meant to provide refuge for those fleeing communism. Ringleaders frequently traveled back and forth to Cuba, smuggled millions to the island and fled there to avoid prosecution.

The masterminds were Cuban immigrants, Lazaro Vigoa Mauri, then 45, and Vladimir Lopez, 38, who traveled back to the island as often as every month during the scam, according to a 2013 indictment charging them with fraud and money laundering.
Lopez spent most of his time in Cuba, former employee Carmen Venegas testified. “He was here, then he would go back to Cuba, but he was traveling constantly — every 15 days, on the weekend, every 20 days.”
The leaders employed new arrivals who came without visas and were allowed entry into the United States under the Cuban Adjustment Act. At least three other participants had been ordered removed for previous crimes but were still here because Cuba refuses to take back most deportees.
The criminals took advantage of U.S. policy intended to help Cubans resettle and occasionally return for visits, using those trips home to smuggle millions from their illegal ventures back to the island.
“Individuals were buying properties and taking money to Cuba, and they were also having other individuals smuggle it to Cuba for them,” South Florida IRS agent Pamela Martin testified at a 2013 court hearing.
One had three houses in Cuba — a notable achievement on an island that legalized private property sales only three years ago.
The owner of one clinic scammed insurers out of more than $400,000, smuggling much of it to Cuba on commercial charter flights, a former employee admitted in a plea agreement.
Another left Cuba on a raft, became a massage therapist at one of the clinics and then started his own. He withdrew thousands from his clinic’s bank account and sent it in $500 increments to relatives in Cuba “via friends who were traveling there,” he told agents.
The leaders escaped. Vigoa, Lopez and three others fled to Cuba, where U.S. authorities can’t touch them. Vigoa returned to his hometown of Pinar del Rio, his ex-girlfriend told agents, and had a cousin send his furniture from West Palm Beach.
Cuba’s safe harbor had a price, records show. One fugitive, Martin testified, “had a couple hundred thousand dollars seized by the Cuban government” for unjust enrichment, a charge Cuba levies against people with too much unexplained money.
Criminal defense lawyers told the Sun Sentinel they know of other fugitives who returned to Cuba and had to give the government a cut of their money.
“If people are not in a position to pay off public officials to the amount and degree they demand, they sometimes wind up in jail until they come up with the amount,” said Samuel Rabin Jr., a Miami defense lawyer. “Some of them pay a significant amount of money and are never jailed.”
These criminal enterprises also generate millions of dollars that find their way into the government-run Cuban economy.
The million-dollar credit-card fraud ring in Texas paid for trips to Cuba and sent Western Union money orders back to relatives. A Tampa ring bought gift cards and electronics with counterfeit credit cards and shipped goods to the island. And a South Florida marijuana cultivation ring funded major renovations to homes in Cuba with luxuries ordinary Cubans could not afford: new appliances, tile, custom crown moldings.
“There’s a tremendous amount that I’ve seen in my cases of underground money that goes there,” said Humberto Dominguez, a Miami criminal defense lawyer. “It’s huge.”
Commuters from Cuba
Recent changes by both countries have made it easier for all Cubans to commute between the two. The Obama administration in 2009 loosened restrictions on Cuban Americans visiting and taking money to the island. The Cuban government eliminated exit visas in January 2013, allowing its citizens to travel to the U.S. and stay up to two years without losing their homes and benefits in Cuba.
Obama is now moving to loosen U.S. limits on travel and money to Cuba even further, allowing export of more categories of items to Cuba and permitting banks to open accounts in Cuba.
“I think this is going to increase crime here,” said Suarez, the defense attorney. He says he has already seen an increase in Cubans commuting to the U.S. to commit crimes.
“They come here to make some money for a few months and then they go back until that money runs out, and then they come back to make some more,” he said. “Folks can live over there very, very well with the money they make in a few months here in Florida sitting on a [marijuana] grow house.”
That was Juan Sanchez Sotolongo’s plan. Three months after he arrived from Cuba last year, police found him growing marijuana at a west Miami-Dade house.
Sanchez Sotolongo told a detective he was “visiting from Cuba and he was just trying to make some money to go back home.”
After a court appearance, he was caught trying to board a flight to Havana and is now serving a 3.5-year prison sentence for marijuana trafficking.
Many Cuban Americans who long ago established roots in the U.S. say the back-and-forth travel, even for legitimate reasons, exploits a policy that envisioned an open, but not revolving, door.
“Look, how many people went back to Russia or the Soviet Union or back to Hitler, back and forth and did business?” said Jaime Suchlicki, director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American studies at the University of Miami. “I mean, C’mon, this is crazy.”
Juan Sanchez Sotolongo
‘Don’t go to Cuba on me’
Cuban fugitives are escaping to the island after bonding out of jail and on the eve of their trials.
“It’s easy as 1-2-3 now,” said Joseph Houston, owner of Liberty Bail Bonds in Naples. “They’ve opened the doors wide open.”
They leave by plane or boat, or cross into Mexico from Texas and then go to Cuba. If courts confiscate their passports, they can obtain replacements or fake documents. Some are stopped at travel checkpoints, but countless others get through by sneaking out of the country or leaving before arrest warrants are issued.
Once in Cuba, they’re safe from American authorities. When fugitives run to other countries, the U.S. can typically have them extradited.
“The first time a bondsman called me and said, ‘He’s gone back to Cuba,’ I said, ‘Are you crazy?’” said Rolando Betancourt, a Miami-based bounty hunter.
Former bondsman Nidia Diaz of Miami said she left the business after a dozen Cubans skipped out, leaving her to repay thousands to the courts. “What takes us by surprise is we never encountered this problem with Cubans before,” she said.
Lilia Casal-Perez posted bond for a West Palm Beach woman after her arrest in a grow house. “I told her, ‘Don’t go to Cuba on me.’” She did.
When a marijuana lab exploded inside a Kendall West house in September 2012, blowing off the roof and doors and damaging nearby homes, the occupants — a couple with a baby and an 8-year-old — ran out, hopped in their cars and sped away.
“They were saying in Spanish, ‘Let’s go, let’s go!’” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Guillermo Cuba.
Within two days, police told the Sun Sentinel, Erisbel Velasco Herrera and Maylen Del Castillo Sanchez were back in Cuba.
Ibrahim Cueto Bernardo caught a charter flight from Miami to Cienfuegos, Cuba, on the morning he was to stand trial for auto-insurance fraud in Tampa. The 2012 trial continued without him, and he was convicted. His public defender filed an appeal, at taxpayer expense.
Yudiel Muro Escalona, a new arrival from Cuba charged in a counterfeit credit-card ring, disappeared the day after police came to his Miami house to arrest him. His mother told agents he returned to Cuba and was living in Artemisa, a city near Havana.
Harboring fugitives
Angel Ricardo Mendoza, 52, is on Interpol’s wanted list for stealing $180,000 from the U.S. Federal Reserve. He lives in a Cuban fishing village only about 100 miles from Key West, but U.S. officials can’t touch him.
A Cuban citizen, Mendoza was a Miami-based truck driver when he admitted he stole a tractor-trailer loaded with newly minted nickels bound for New Orleans in 2004. He drove the haul to southwest Miami-Dade, where accomplices buried the loot in the backyard of a house with 88 pot plants inside.
Federal agents never found $45,000 of the nickels, or Mendoza.
The Sun Sentinel tracked him down in Santa Fe, on the northwest side of Havana. He works as a lifeguard and lives a few blocks from the beach in a modest house with a large picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the wall. He still carries his green card and Florida driver license.
Angel Ricardo Mendoza
Angel Ricardo Mendoza's home (toward the back of this building through the gate on the right) in Santa Fe, Cuba.
Mendoza said he couldn’t resist the opportunity he saw in those 900 bags of nickels.
“Damn! 15 palettes full of money!” he told the Sun Sentinel. “I committed a crime I shouldn’t have.”
Mendoza, who had been in the U.S. for 13 years, high-tailed it back to Cuba. Federal officials said an accomplice wired Mendoza money, but he claims he took none of the loot.
He said he spent more than a year in jail in Cuba after he returned, although he did not know why. Other fugitives in Cuba have been jailed or fined for illegally bringing money into the island or for immigration violations, bail bondsmen and criminal defense lawyers told the Sun Sentinel.
An extradition treaty between the U.S. and Cuba, signed more than a century ago, is not recognized by either country. Cuba has historically harbored about 70 murderers and hijackers from America and other countries who fled there in the 1970s and ’80s, and in the past decade has increasingly become a refuge for its citizens fleeing prosecution in the U.S.
Cuba is known for sheltering Medicare fraud fugitives, but has expanded its safe harbor to droves of other criminals.
More than 500 Cuban-born fugitives have outstanding arrest warrants for federal charges in the U.S., and another 500 on state fraud and drug charges in Florida, though their whereabouts are unknown. The FBI has estimated 30 to 50 health-care fraud fugitives went to Cuba. The Sun Sentinel, through court documents and interviews, determined that at least 50 more fled to the island, wanted for other frauds or marijuana cultivation.
A U.S. State Department spokesman said the U.S. “repeatedly raises their cases with the government of Cuba.”
A senior Cuban government official, also speaking on condition he not be named, said the U.S. expects information on fugitives “but doesn’t give it. The U.S. government is to blame because it hasn’t created the conditions for cooperation.”
Over the past decade, Cuba has agreed to the return of about 10 fugitives, most of them non-Cubans.
Catch me if you can
Life for U.S. fugitives in Cuba ranges from ordinary to opulent.
Jorge Emilio Perez de Morales Sante, wanted on charges he laundered $238 million stolen from Medicare, some of which ended up in banks in Cuba, has a two-story waterfront home on Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) in an exclusive neighborhood of Havana. Nestled among palm trees and facing the Florida Straits, the home is down the street from a Cuban vice president and luxurious by Cuban standards.
Medicare fraud fugitive Jorge Emilio Perez de Morales Sante escaped to Cuba, where he has this waterfront home in Havana facing the Florida Straits. Inside, the walls are lined with colorful artwork.
A woman answering the door and calling herself a caretaker said he wasn’t home. “That’s all I can say,” she said.
The Sun Sentinel found another fugitive from U.S. justice living in a far more modest, sparsely furnished home in Santa Clara in central Cuba.
Livan Moya Tagle, charged in a million-dollar Texas credit-card fraud ring, told the Sun Sentinel that he stole to feed his family, and that Cubans go to the U.S. for economic opportunity. “No one leaves because of politics,” he said.
Moya wrote a rambling letter to the judge in his case in 2013, trying to clear his co-defendants and saying he fled to Cuba “with a great quantity of money.”
American authorities naively think “Cubans who leave Cuba hate the Cuban government,” he wrote. “I went to the U.S. to steal, to damage the U.S. Government.”
Moya included his return address and dared officials to get him.
“Come to Cuba to look for me,” he wrote. “Do it if you can.”
February 2013 letter from Cuba sent by fugitive Livan Moya Tagle to a Texas judge handling his credit card fraud case. See it bigger
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"Hablame"

"EN TIEMPOS DIFÍCILES" - Heberto Padilla

A aquel hombre le pidieron su tiempo

para que lo juntara al tiempo de la Historia.

Le pidieron las manos,

porque para una época difícil

nada hay mejor que un par de buenas manos.

Le pidieron los ojos

que alguna vez tuvieron lágrimas

para que contemplara el lado claro

(especialmente el lado claro de la vida)

porque para el horror basta un ojo de asombro.

Le pidieron sus labios

resecos y cuarteados para afirmar,

para erigir, con cada afirmación, un sueño

(el-alto-sueño);

le pidieron las piernas

duras y nudosas

(sus viejas piernas andariegas),

porque en tiempos difíciles

¿algo hay mejor que un par de piernas

para la construcción o la trinchera?

Le pidieron el bosque que lo nutrió de niño,

con su árbol obediente.

Le pidieron el pecho, el corazón, los hombros.

Le dijeron

que eso era estrictamente necesario.

Le explicaron después

que toda esta donación resultaria inútil.

sin entregar la lengua,

porque en tiempos difíciles

nada es tan útil para atajar el odio o la mentira.

Y finalmente le rogaron

que, por favor, echase a andar,

porque en tiempos difíciles

esta es, sin duda, la prueba decisiva.

Los Aldeanos: "El Socialismo en Tiempos del Colera: Toda Una Nación"

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La columna de Cubanalisis

NEOCASTRISMO [Hacer click en la imagen]

NEOCASTRISMO [Hacer click en la imagen]
¨Saturno jugando con sus hijos¨/ Pedro Pablo Oliva

Seguidores

Carta desde la carcel de Fidel Castro Ruz

“…después de todo, para mí la cárcel es un buen descanso, que sólo tiene de malo el que es obligatorio. Leo mucho y estudio mucho. Parece increíble, las horas pasan como si fuesen minutos y yo, que soy de temperamento intranquilo, me paso el día leyendo, apenas sin moverme para nada. La correspondencia llega normalmente…”

“…Como soy cocinero, de vez en cuando me entretengo preparando algún pisto. Hace poco me mandó mi hermana desde Oriente un pequeño jamón y preparé un bisté con jalea de guayaba. También preparo spaghettis de vez en cuando, de distintas formas, inventadas todas por mí; o bien tortilla de queso. ¡Ah! ¡Qué bien me quedan! por supuesto, que el repertorio no se queda ahí. Cuelo también café que me queda muy sabroso”.
“…En cuanto a fumar, en estos días pasados he estado rico: una caja de tabacos H. Upman del doctor Miró Cardona, dos cajas muy buenas de mi hermano Ramón….”.
“Me voy a cenar: spaghettis con calamares, bombones italianos de postre, café acabadito de colar y después un H. Upman #4. ¿No me envidias?”.
“…Me cuidan, me cuidan un poquito entre todos. No le hacen caso a uno, siempre estoy peleando para que no me manden nada. Cuando cojo el sol por la mañana en shorts y siento el aire de mar, me parece que estoy en una playa… ¡Me van a hacer creer que estoy de vacaciones! ¿Qué diría Carlos Marx de semejantes revolucionarios?”.
¨La patria es dicha de todos, y dolor de todos, y cielo para todos, y no feudo ni capellaní­a de nadie¨ - Marti

"No temas ni a la prision, ni a la pobreza, ni a la muerte. Teme al miedo"
-
Giacomo Leopardi

¨Por eso es muy importante, Vicky, hijo mío, que recuerdes siempre para qué sirve la cabeza: para atravesar paredes¨Halvar de Flake [El vikingo]

"Como no me he preocupado de nacer, no me preocupo de morir" - Lorca

"Al final, no os preguntarán qué habéis sabido, sino qué habéis hecho" - Jean de Gerson

"Si queremos que todo siga como está, es necesario que todo cambie" - Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

"Todo hombre paga su grandeza con muchas pequeñeces, su victoria con muchas derrotas, su riqueza con múltiples quiebras" - Giovanni Papini


"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans" - John Lennon

"Habla bajo, lleva siempre un gran palo y llegarás lejos" - Proverbio Africano

"No hay medicina para el miedo" - Proverbio escoces

"El supremo arte de la guerra es doblegar al enemigo sin luchar"
- Sun Tzu

"You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother" - Albert Einstein

"It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office" - H. L. Menken

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented" - Elie Wiesel

"Stay hungry, stay foolish" -
Steve Jobs

"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert , in five years ther'ed be a shortage of sand" - Milton Friedman

"The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less" - Vaclav Havel

"No se puede controlar el resultado, pero si lo que uno haga para alcanzarlo" -
Vitor Belfort [MMA Fighter]

Liborio

Liborio
A la puerta de la gloria está San Pedro sentado y ve llegar a su lado a un hombre de cierta historia. No consigue hacer memoria y le pregunta con celo: ¿Quién eras allá en el suelo? Era Liborio mi nombre. Has sufrido mucho, hombre, entra, te has ganado el cielo.

Para Raul Castro

Cuba ocupa el penultimo lugar en el mundo en libertad economica solo superada por Corea del Norte.

Cuba ocupa el lugar 147 entre 153 paises evaluados en "Democracia, Mercado y Transparencia 2007"

Cuando vinieron

Cuando vinieron a buscar a los comunistas, Callé: yo no soy comunista.
Cuando vinieron a buscar a los sindicalistas, Callé: yo no soy sindicalista.
Cuando vinieron a buscar a los judíos, Callé: yo no soy judío. Cuando vinieron a buscar a los católicos, Callé: yo no soy “tan católico”.
Cuando vinieron a buscarme a mí, Callé: no había quien me escuchara.

Reverendo Martin Niemöller

Martha Colmenares

Martha Colmenares
Un sitio donde los hechos y sus huellas nos conmueven o cautivan

CUBA LLORA Y EL MUNDO Y NOSOTROS NO ESCUCHAMOS

Donde esta el Mundo, donde los Democratas, donde los Liberales? El pueblo de Cuba llora y nadie escucha.
Donde estan los Green, los Socialdemocratas, los Ricos y los Pobres, los Con Voz y Sin Voz? Cuba llora y nadie escucha.
Donde estan el Jet Set, los Reyes y Principes, Patricios y Plebeyos? Cuba desesperada clama por solidaridad.
Donde Bob Dylan, donde Martin Luther King, donde Hollywood y sus estrellas? Donde la Middle Class democrata y conservadora, o acaso tambien liberal a ratos? Y Gandhi? Y el Dios de Todos?
Donde los Santos y Virgenes; los Dioses de Cristianos, Protestantes, Musulmanes, Budistas, Testigos de Jehova y Adventistas del Septimo Dia. Donde estan Ochun y todas las deidades del Panteon Yoruba que no acuden a nuestro llanto? Donde Juan Pablo II que no exige mas que Cuba se abra al Mundo y que el Mundo se abra a Cuba?
Que hacen ahora mismo Alberto de Monaco y el Principe Felipe que no los escuchamos? Donde Madonna, donde Angelina Jolie y sus adoptados around de world; o nos hara falta un Brando erguido en un Oscar por Cuba? Donde Sean Penn?
Donde esta la Aristocracia Obrera y los Obreros menos Aristocraticos, donde los Working Class que no estan junto a un pueblo que lanquidece, sufre y llora por la ignominia?
Que hacen ahora mismo Zapatero y Rajoy que no los escuchamos, y Harper y Dion, e Hillary y Obama; donde McCain que no los escuchamos? Y los muertos? Y los que estan muriendo? Y los que van a morir? Y los que se lanzan desesperados al mar?
Donde estan el minero cantabrico o el pescador de percebes gijonese? Los Canarios donde estan? A los africanos no los oimos, y a los australianos con su acento de hombres duros tampoco. Y aquellos chinos milenarios de Canton que fundaron raices eternas en la Isla? Y que de la Queen Elizabeth y los Lords y Gentlemen? Que hace ahora mismo el combativo Principe Harry que no lo escuchamos?
Donde los Rockefellers? Donde los Duponts? Donde Kate Moss? Donde el Presidente de la ONU? Y Solana donde esta? Y los Generales y Doctores? Y los Lam y los Fabelo, y los Sivio y los Fito Paez?
Y que de Canseco y Miñoso? Y de los veteranos de Bahia de Cochinos y de los balseros y de los recien llegados? Y Carlos Otero y Susana Perez? Y el Bola, y Pancho Cespedes? Y YO y TU?
Y todos nosotros que estamos aqui y alla rumiando frustaciones y resquemores, envidias y sinsabores; autoelogios y nostalgias, en tanto Louis Michel comulga con Perez Roque mientras Biscet y una NACION lanquidecen?
Donde Maceo, donde Marti; donde aquel Villena con su carga para matar bribones?
Cuba llora y clama y el Mundo NO ESCUCHA!!!

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