The Washington Post
November 6 1982
Four Cuban Officials Indicted in Drug Smuggling
Havana Said Haven For Colombia Goods
Two members of the Cuban Communist Party Central Committee and two other high-level Cuban officials were among the 14 persons indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in Miami on charges of conspiring to import marijuana and methaqualone from Colombia to the United States by way of Cuba.
The Cuban officials were charged with allowing Cuba to be sued "as a loading station and source of supplies" for drug smugglers bringing drugs from Colombia to the United States from 1978 until April of this year.
The indictments marked the first time that Cuban officials have been formally accused of drug trafficking, although there have been widespread reports that the Castro government was heavily involved in smuggling drugs from Colombia to the United States via the communist island nation.
The Reagan administration announced last month that it intended to get tough on the drug traffickers by setting up 12 regional task forces covering the country with 1,200 new agents and prosecutors.
Drug Enforcement Administration officials said yesterday that they decided to seek indictments against the Cuban officials to draw attention to the role of Castro government in drug trafficking in the Americas. Sources said there is little hope of prosecuting the Cubans, since the United States does not maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Jim Judge, a DEA spokesman, said the indictments followed a three-year investigation. During that period, he said, Colombians brought into this country 2.5 million pounds of marijuana, 23 million methaqualone tablets, know as Quaaludes, and 80 pounds of cocaine. Those drugs would have a street value of more than $800 million, officials said. Much of the marijuana and methaqualone came through Cuba.
A DEA source alleged that the smugglers were led by a Colombian named Jaine Guillot-Lara, also indicted yesterday, who is accused of paying off Cuban officials so that his boats could stop at Cuban ports for supplies and refueling.
In return, the source said, Guillot-Lara was allegedly paid by the Cuban officials to smuggle arms to the M19 leftist guerilla movement in Colombia. One of his boats was seized by the Colombian government in 1981 with 100 tons of weapons aboard.
Guillot-Lara was wanted by the U.S. authorities for a 1978 drug indictment and by Colombian authorities on weapons charges. He was arrested last year in Mexico City and charged with being involved in terrorist activities. But Mexican authorities released him last month. He fled to Spain and is believed to be in hiding in Europe.
The Justice Department has sent a formal protest to the Mexican government over his release.
A DEA source said that all of the boats allegedly used in the operation were renamed "Viviana" and that the Cuban navy was under orders not to fire upon any boat bearing that name.
The Cuban officials named in the indictment include:
* Rene Rodriguez-Cruz, reportedly an official of the Cuban intelligence service, member of the Cuban Communist Party Central Committee and president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship With The Peoples. It was in the last capacity in 1980 that Rodriguez helped organize the boatlift of nearly 125,000 Cubans to the United States as refugees -- including some convicts from Cuban jails.
* Aldo Santamaria-Cuadrado, also known as Rene Baeza-Rodriguez, who the indictment identifies as a vice admiral in the Cuban navy and a member of the Cuban Communist Party Central Committee. He "would supervise in Cuba the protection and re-supply of ships transporting marijuana from Colombia to the United States by way of Cuba," the indictment says.
* Fernando Ravelo-Renedo, Cuban ambassador to Columbia until the embassy to Columbia until the embassy in Bogota was closed as relations between the countries worsened in 1980. He is godfather of a 2-year-old daughter of Colombian drug traffickers Juan (Johnny) Crump. Crump is now in the federal witness protection program.
* Gonzalo Bassols-Suarez, identified as a former minister-counsel of the Cuban embassy in Bogota and a member of the Cuban Communist Party.
A DEA source said that Rodriguez-Cruz and Santamaria-Cuadrado are both close associates of Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Two of the men indicted were arrested yesterday in Miami. They were Cubans Jose Domingo-Martinez and Alberto Cortez.
Others indicted include five Cubans who are already serving time in American prisons on drug charges: Cornelio Ramos-Valladares, David Lorenzo-Perez, Jorge Felipe Llerena-Delgado, Jose Rafael Martinez and Hector Gonzales. A Colombian named the indictments, Levino Orobio-Michelana, is also in a U.S. prison on drug charges.
Another indictment listed charges against Julian Losada, who is still in Colombia.