Riviera Maya, Q.R. — Following a one-month trial, a federal jury convicted a Miami Beach man for his role in a violent transnational organized crime group operating in Cuba, Mexico, Spain, and South Florida.
According to a statement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of South Florida, the group are reported to have begun operating as early as 2009.
Javier Hernandez, 50, of Miami Beach, Florida, was convicted on October 18, following a jury trial of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling, conspiracy to transport stolen vessels, conspiracy to traffic in certain motor vehicles, trafficking in certain motor vehicles, and conspiracy to launder money to promote stolen property trafficking and the bribery of public officials.
According to evidence introduced at trial, Hernandez and his codefendant, Ramon Reyes Aranda, 38, of Naples, Florida, stole vessels from the west coast of Florida. Reyes Aranda would identify the vessels, and Hernandez transported them to Mexico, where they would be used to fund and facilitate the enterprise’s illegal activities.
The stolen property, which included boats and vessels, were transported to a coconspirator in Mexico, who would then use the stolen property to facilitate and promote the organization’s activities.
An extensive multi-national operation led by American and Mexican law enforcement authorities was formed to combat the group’s activities known collectively in Mexico as La Mafia Cubana en Quintana Roo or The Cuban Mafia in Quintana Roo.
Other members of the group include Jose Miguel Gonzalez Vidal, 36, Reynaldo Abreu Garcia, 56, Yohismy Perez Gonzalez, 40, Yosvani Carbonel Lemus, 43, Reynaldo Crespo Marquez, 44 and Jancer Sergio Ramos Valdes, 37, all Cuban citizens residing in Mexico at the time of the charges.
Maikel Antonio Hechavarria Reyes and Monica Susana Castillo, both of Mexico, are also part of the group.
Prior to the trial, Reyes Aranda pleaded guilty to participating in a money laundering conspiracy to promote stolen property trafficking and the bribery of public officials.
Members of the migrant extortion racket required victims to provide contact information of a family member from whom they would later demand a $10,000 USD ransom fee. The men contacted the victims’ relatives, some of whom were in Miami, and threatened to torture, starve, and kill the victims if the relatives refused to pay.
If a victim’s relative was able to pay the ransom, the organization released the victim and sent them by bus to the United States-Mexico border with instructions to seek political asylum.
The victims whose relatives were unable to pay the fee were beaten, threatened with knives and guns, and shocked with stun guns until they were finally rescued by Mexican authorities. Members of the organization also sought to profit from drug trafficking and fraud schemes.
Their sentencing hearings have been scheduled for November and December in Miami.