Drug gangs here, terrorist linked
A link between a fugitive Puerto Rican terrorist bomber and one of the Latino gangs warring over control of drugs smuggled here from Cuba has been uncovered by the FBI and Chicago police.
The connection is a Cuban refugee who was arrested in a Logan Square area apartment he shared with a former Chicago policeman suspected of having played a role in the murder of opposing drug gang members.
After the arrest of the refugee, Luis (Cuba) Valdez, 32, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents alerted Chicago police that their intelligence sources indicated Valdez had been an associate of terrorist bomber Carlos Alberto Torres, who is on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list.
Torres, a former Chicagoan, is a leader of FALN, the Puerto Rican nationalist underground organization that has planted numerous bombs in Chicago, New York and Miami in its campaign to win independence for Puerto Rico. One of his "bomb factories" was found on Chicago's Northwest Side.
Federal investigators, who have infiltrated some FALN operations, have declined to disclose the nature of the Valdez-Torres tie.
Valdez was hit with a federal weapons charge after police, armed with a search warrant, raided the apartment he shared with the policeman in the wake of the former officer's March 1978, on charges of peddling heroin to undercover drug agents.
In the apartment, investigators found a .22-caliber rifle that had been converted into what FBI agents called a unique murder weapon.
Authorities said the weapon may have been used-or was being readied for use-in sniper types of assassinations during the widening drug war among the Chicago- and New York-based Latino gangs fighting for dominance in the lucrative heroin and cocaine traffic out of Cuba.
Federal agents said holes had been drilled into the barrel of the hit gun and then the barrel had been wrapped in a muffling of terry cloth, fashioning a homemade--yet highly effective--silencer for the rifle.
Valdez was hit with the gun charge because the fabrication or unauthorized possession of a silencer for any weapon is a federal offense.
FBI agents, Drug Enforcement Administration investigators, New York police and Chicago detectives still are checking out murders believed tied to the drug war in an attempt to determine if bullets from the murder gun figured in any of the deaths.
Police say the steadily escalating, 18-month drug war has taken the lives of at least four people, and perhaps as many as 12, in Chicago, New York and Miami.
One of those killed was a 75-year-old bystander, Mary Kesseler, of 5715 N. Ridge. She was shot in the chest and fatally wounded Sept. 15,1977, at Bryn Mawr and Broadway when she was caught in a crossfire between elements of the two warring gangs.
Her death, and the assassination shortly afterward of one of the gang members charged in her death, led police to open a top-secret probe of the Cuban drug traffic and its ties here, in New York and in Miami.
The Investigation's code name, Operation Delta, recently was dropped
after word of the project began leaking out. But authorities said the inquiry
is continuing to dig into the burgeoning Cuba-to-Florida narcotics trade
and the distribution of drugs out of Miami.