MIAMI (Reuters) -- A judge denied bond for two alleged Cuban spies
Wednesday, after government attorneys said the men were living under false
identities and had already made plans to flee the country if their network was
The alleged leader of the spy ring, charged under the name Manuel
Viramontes, had also discussed a sabotage campaign in coded
communications with Cuban agencies, government attorney Caroline Miller
said at a bond hearing.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Garber said he believed it was likely
Viramontes and his alleged lieutenant, Luis Medina, would try to flee if they
were granted bond.
"Each represents a danger to the community," he said.
Alleged spies reportedly followed orders from Havana
The two men and eight other people are accused of belonging to a spy
network with orders from the communist government in Havana to infiltrate
U.S. military bases and anti-Castro Cuban exile organizations in Miami.
The 10 were leading apparently ordinary lives in South Florida's Hispanic
community. U.S. authorities believe it is the largest roundup of alleged
Cuban agents since President Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution.
Viramontes has described himself as a self-employed graphic artist but
is said to
be a Cuban military captain with the code name "Giro."
But, said Miller: "That is not his true identity ... the name belongs to
who is dead."
Coded documents on computer diskettes seized from his apartment showed
the identity and three other covers had been prepared for him. The profiles
included personal histories, details of schools and jobs and names of
relatives, she said.
Diskettes reveal possible sabotage campaign
An "arrest alibi plan" laid out four escape routes, two through Mexico,
through Canada and one to Nicaragua.
FBI agent Mark de Almeida said the secret documents, contained on
"hundreds and hundreds" of diskettes, referred to Cuban agencies and also
mentioned "el comandante," which they assumed to be a reference to
They also discussed a possible sabotage campaign called Operation Picada
against buildings and planes in Florida.
One scenario was the sabotage of an aircraft hangar, but the FBI agent
unable to give details.
Viramontes, a slim man with receding hair and a goatee beard, sat
impassively throughout the proceedings.
Although he claimed to be separated from a wife who lived in Mexico, he
had a wife in Cuba, whom he addressed by the code name Bonsai in secret
messages, Miller said.
One letter said, "I am writing five days before our eighth anniversary."
Briefcase contains 'espionage paraphernalia'
Attorney Guy Lewis said Medina was a Cuban army major who also was
living under a false identity. He was assigned to infiltrate the Southern
Command, the U.S. military headquarters for Latin America and
the Caribbean in Miami.
Before his arrest, Medina had planned to flee the United States on
Thursday, after a laptop computer was stolen while he was in Los Angeles
last week, Lewis said.
A briefcase seized from his apartment held "all kinds of espionage
paraphernalia" as well as school diplomas, a birth certificate, $5,000 in cash
and videos shot in Cuba. Medina was in Cuba as recently as July, Lewis
The FBI search of the apartment he shared with fellow defendant Ruben
Campa turned up, among other things, 15 to 20 death certificates and a
shortwave radio set up for communication with Cuba.
Medina has a wife and three daughters in Cuba, although he said on a
passport application he was not married, Lewis said.
Change of venue needed?
Viramontes' lawyer Paul McKenna contended the FBI had no evidence that
his client was the "Giro" mentioned in the secret documents.
De Almeida said the link was established from the disks, surveillance and
wiretaps over a three-year period.
The case has caused a sensation among Miami's predominant
Cuban-American community, which is obsessed with Castro and dreams of
McKenna told reporters later he hoped the defendants could get a fair trial
in Miami, but it might be necessary to request that it be moved.
"This is a very, very unpopular case," he said.
Bond hearings for the other eight defendants were put off until Friday,
Tuesday and September 28.