September 15, 1998
Ten Cubans are accused of being spies for Castro

                                 By Jerry Seper and Tom Carter
                                 THE WASHINGTON TIMES

                                     The FBI yesterday charged 10 persons with running a
                                     Cuban spy ring in Miami that sought to penetrate U.S.
                                 military bases, infiltrate anti-Castro groups and manipulate U.S.
                                 media and political organizations.
                                       The eight men and two women, arrested Saturday
                                 following a four-year probe, made their first court appearances
                                 yesterday and were charged with espionage and failure to
                                 register as agents of a foreign power. It was not clear if the
                                 suspected spies are Cuban exiles who remain loyal to the
                                 Castro regime, or agents who entered the country illegally from
                                       Handcuffed and in prison denims, the 10 were ordered
                                 held without bail for what John Schlesinger, spokesman for the
                                 U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami, called a "huge" espionage
                                       The network reportedly targeted the U.S. Southern
                                 Command, which includes MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa,
                                 Fla., and the Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West, Fla.,
                                 as well as U.S. military operations in Latin America and the
                                       An FBI affidavit said the group came under investigation in
                                 early 1995, and the network operated with some
                                 sophistication, using code names and developing escape plans
                                 and alibis in case they came under suspicion.
                                       The FBI said the ring infiltrated several Cuban exile
                                 organizations, including the Miami-based Brothers to the
                                 Rescue. One of those arrested was Rene Gonzalez, who
                                 worked with Brothers to the Rescue until 1993. The group
                                 operates search-and-rescue missions from Miami for Cuban
                                 refugees in boats off Cuba's north shore.
                                       Three Americans aboard two Brothers to the Rescue
                                 planes were killed in February 1996 when their plane was shot
                                 down by a Cuban MiG fighter jet over international waters.
                                 Federal authorities at the time investigated to determine if
                                 Cuban spies had played any part in the incident.
                                       Mr. Gonzalez also has been identified as an FBI informant
                                 and had ties to Ramon Saul Sanchez's Democracia movement,
                                 which operates flotillas from the Florida Keys to near Havana
                                 to protest Cuban government actions.
                                       FBI director Louis J. Freeh called Rep. Ileana
                                 Ros-Lehtinen at home on Saturday to inform her of the arrests,
                                 according to Juan Cortinas, Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen's spokesman in
                                       The Florida Republican asked the FBI in June for a briefing
                                 by the agency's counterintelligence section on two types of
                                 activities by Cuban officials in the United States: "a significant
                                 increase" in travel by Cuban officials to Florida and New York
                                 for private meetings, and an "inordinate number of meetings
                                 Cuban government officials had with major U.S. corporations
                                 and industry giants."
                                       On July 22, she raised her concerns at the FBI with
                                 Stephen Dillard, the section chief of the National Security
                                 Division, and Larry Torrence, the deputy assistant director for
                                       Anti-Castro Cuban-Americans have long feared being
                                 infiltrated by Cuban government agents, apparently with good
                                       Juan Pablo Roque, a Cuban defector and former MiG pilot
                                 who had been living in Miami, surfaced in Cuba after the
                                 Brothers to the Rescue shooting incident and claimed to have
                                 supplied information to Havana. Mr. Roque, who married in
                                 Miami and often flew on Brothers to the Rescue missions,
                                 returned to Cuba one day before the shootdown.
                                       In 1996, another Cuban immigrant, Roberto Martin
                                 Cabrera, claimed to have been a spy and a hit man for Castro's
                                 government. In 1992, the Cuban exile community was horrified
                                 to learn that a top member of the anti-Castro paramilitary
                                 group Alpha 66 had worked as a double agent for Cuba after
                                 he moved to Miami in 1979.
                                       In 1991, Jose Fernandez Brenes told a Cuban newspaper
                                 he was a double agent who had infiltrated the CIA and TV
                                 Marti, a U.S.-financed television station hostile to Cuba's
                                 communist government, during three years in the United States.
                                       Other suspects in the case were identified as Alejandro
                                 Alonso, Ruben Campa, Antonio Guerrero, Linda Hernandez,
                                 Nilo Hernandez, Luis Medina, Amarilis Santos, Joseph Santos
                                 and Manuel Viramontez.