June 29, 2001: Mariano M. Faget (pronounced fah-HAY) received a sentence of five years on espionage-related charges. Originally arrested on February 17, 2000, Faget was one of the most senior Cuban-American officials in the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). A 34-year federal employee, the FBI caught him in a sting operation codenamed FALSE BLUE.
Faget was the number three man in the INS’ Miami office and a supervisory district adjudication officer. As such, he oversaw requests for political asylum and other naturalization decisions. This allowed him to determine the fate of thousands of Cubans who escaped Cuba and applied for refuge in the US. In addition, Faget had access to the immigration paroles of foreign citizens used as government informants. Ironically, he was just a few months from his Federal retirement when arrested. US prosecutor Richard Gregorie said Faget was motivated by “money, information and access.”
In the course of its 15-month investigation, the FBI secretly surveilled Faget meeting with Cuban Intelligence Officers Luis Molina and later, Jose Imperatori. An FBI Agent testified that Molina and Imperatori were “known Cuban intelligence officers. Two days after Faget’s arrest, the State Department ordered Imperatori’s expulsion. In less than two weeks, senior America Department (DA) officer Fernando Garcia Bielsa arrived in Washington as Imperatori’s replacement. The FBI and Senator Jesse Helms had originally opposed Garcia’s posting to the US, but were overruled by the Clinton administration. According to the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), Garcia’s long-standing ties with Puerto Rican terrorists continued through at least 1998 when he met with Macheteros leaders in the island Commonwealth.
Released early, Faget left prison in September 2003.
Editor’s Note: The America Department (DA) is the name used by the intelligence wing of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party from 1974 to the late 1980s or early 1990s. The DA was heavily involved in supporting revolutionaries and terrorists, but has since become more focused on political intelligence operations. This service is now called the America Area of the International Department of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC/ID/AA).