The Miami Herald
November 14, 1998

             Identities of 3 accused spies still elude feds

             By CAROL ROSENBERG
             Herald Staff Writer

             More than a month after prosecutors declared them ``John Does,'' federal
             authorities are still unable to identify three accused members of a Cuban spy ring
             that operated for several years in South Florida.

             Arrested Sept. 15 as Manuel Viramontes, 31, Luis Medina III, 30, and Ruben
             Campa, 33, all claiming U.S. citizenship, the U.S. Attorney's office classified them
             as John Doe 1, 2 and 3, in their subsequent Oct. 2 indictment that alleges they
             were agents of the government of Fidel Castro.

             ``Only they and Fidel know who they really are,'' said John Schlesinger of the U.S.
             Attorney's Office on Friday.

             ``They're still being carried as John Does,'' added FBI Special Agent Mike

             Prosecutors argued in court that all three men are actually masquerading in the
             identities of U.S. citizens who died as young boys in Texas, presumably people of
             Hispanic heritage who would not have relatives in South Florida. Not only did they
             allegedly assume their names, but they supposedly took their birthdays as well, a
             mechanism that allowed them to obtain birth certificates.

             Investigators, they said, believe the three men are actually Cuban citizens posing as

             In the case of the man who calls himself Viramontes, Deputy U.S. Attorney
             Caroline Heck Miller alleged in court that federal agents believe from their analysis
             of his personal documents that he has a wife of 10 years still living in Cuba.
             Further, she said, FBI wiretaps of his home determined that, while he spoke in
             Spanish on the telephone he assumed a Puerto Rican accent, but inside his home
             he spoke with a Cuban accent.

             And in the case of the man who calls himself Medina, Deputy U.S. Attorney Guy
             Lewis alleged in court that he is in fact a major in the Cuban military whose real
             first name is Ramon. Authorities surmised this by watching videotape of the
             suspect, which they believed was shot in Cuba, in which people call him

             Defense attorneys for two of the men -- Paul McKenna for John Doe 1 and Eric
             Cohen for John Doe 2 -- say their clients steadfastly maintain that they are who
             they claim to be, Viramontes and Medina. Federal public defender Joaquin
             Mendez, who represents John Doe 3, could not be reached for comment despite
             repeated attempts.

             At issue is, if the men are not U.S. citizens, how and when they arrived in South
             Florida -- and who helped them.

             Did they come with valid U.S. immigration documents and then assume new
             identities? Or did they arrive illegally -- perhaps during the 1994 rafter crisis when
             Cuban migrants overwhelmed South Florida's shores?

             Prosecutors consider the three men to be leaders of the 10-member ring that
             allegedly snooped on Cuban American interest groups and tried to monitor the
             Miami-Dade activity at the Pentagon's U.S. Southern Command headquarters,
             which controls all U.S. troop activity in the Southern Hemisphere.

             The trio face a September 1999 trial, along with Rene Gonzalez, 42, and Antonio
             Guerrero, 39, who were both born in the United States. All are accused of
             conspiring to act as agents of a foreign government, Cuba, without registering with
             Attorney General Janet Reno. John Does 1 and 2 and Guerrero are also accused
             of conspiring to pass along U.S. national defense information to Cuba.

             Five other people arrested as ring members have pleaded guilty to lesser charges,
             carrying punishments ranging from five to 10 years in prison. Sentencing is
             expected in September 1999 as well. Their guilty plea agreements suggest they are
             cooperating with federal authorities as they develop their cases against the other

             All 10 people, two of them women, are in jail.