The Miami Herald
October 19, 1999
Drug dealers reportedly used Cuba as a meeting place or refuge

 El Nuevo Herald

 Drug traffickers have recently been using Cuba to meet or seek refuge, according
 to information that has emerged from a string of narcotics arrests and scandals in
 Latin America this year.

 The latest case became known when the chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement
 Administration in Miami, Vincent Mazzilli, said the top leaders of a huge
 Colombian-Mexican drug smuggling consortium arrested last week had met at
 least once in Havana.

 Mazzilli said Colombia's Alejandro Bernal Madrigal and Mexico's Armando
 Valencia had met this year at a Cuban site he did not identify. They were indicted
 in Miami on charges of heading a network responsible for smuggling 20 to 30 tons
 of cocaine a month to the United States.

 The indictments were part of Operation Millennium, announced simultaneously by
 Attorney General Janet Reno in Washington, Colombian National Police Chief
 Rosso Jose Serrano in Bogota and Mazzilli in Miami.

 Mazzilli made a point of saying that the investigation had not implicated any
 Cubans and that the ``obvious reason for the meeting in Havana was that Cuba
 was ``outside the reach of U.S. and Colombian authorities.


 Skeptics alleged that Cuban authorities must have known of the meeting.

 ``In a country where every human rights activist, political dissident and journalist
 is followed, that narco-traffickers can meet without the Cuban secret police
 knowing is a tale from Alice in Wonderland, said Rep. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

 Whatever the truth, it's clear that Bernal Madrigal and Valencia were not the first
 suspected drug traffickers to visit Cuba.

 Last month, a reputed member of Colombia's Medellin Cartel, Hector Dario
 Yepes, was arrested in Panama after he arrived on a flight from Havana.
 Extradited to Colombia, Yepes said he had been in Cuba as a tourist.

 And last April, two suspects in one of Peru's largest narcotics cases ever fled to
 Cuba after authorities seized 2.3 tons of cocaine hidden among boxes of fish in a
 shipping container in the Pacific port of Callao.

 Peruvian authorities identified the leaders of the smuggling plot as Boris Foguel y
 Suengas, 39, a Panamanian businessman, and Bruno Chiappe, a Peruvian auto

 Chiappe later returned to Peru and turned himself in to police on the advice of his
 lawyer, Javier Corrochano, to take advantage of a law that offers lower penalties
 for criminals who confess and repent.


 Corrochano told El Nuevo Herald that while in Cuba, Chiappe met with Foguel in a
 suite at the Melia Cohiba hotel in Havana, and that Foguel stayed regularly in a
 house in Havana that he shared with a Cuban girlfriend.

 ``It is powerfully interesting to me that [Foguel] can walk around freely,
 Corrochano said. ``But since Interpol doesn't get much attention there. . . .

 Foguel, in an interview with the Lima news weekly Caretas reported to have taken
 place ``somewhere in Central America, said he had run an import-export business
 in Cuba for some years. Among the products he mentioned were prefabricated

 Peruvian police have alleged that the Foguel-Chiappe group, nicknamed The
 Camels, laundered about $24 million through investments in buildings, luxury
 vehicles and bankrupt or fictitious enterprises.

 The Cuban government told Peruvian authorities that it had no record of any visit
 to the island by Foguel.

 Earlier this year, the Mexican newspaper Reforma reported that police believed
 that Mario Villanueva, a former governor of the state of Quintana Roo wanted on
 drug charges, was hiding in a small town near Havana.

 Mexican police also claim to have some evidence that Amado Carrillo, a powerful
 drug lord who died in 1997, visited Cuba several times beginning in 1994 and
 stayed in a government house reserved for important foreign visitors.

                     Copyright 1999 Miami Herald