Cuban Military Court Sentences US Citizen to 13 Years in Prison for Alleged Espionage Reply

According to a source related to the case, the couple was being investigated by Cuban counterintelligence after suspicions arose that they were providing classified information that could jeopardize state security. (Twitter)

By Karina Martín – Pan Am Post

A military court in Havana, Cuba has sentenced a US citizen and her husband, a former Cuban diplomat, to a long-term prison sentence for crimes of espionage.

According to a source related to the case, the couple was being investigated by Cuban counterintelligence after suspicions arose that they were providing classified information that could jeopardize state security.

Alina López Miyares was detained last January at Havana airport as she was preparing to travel to Miami, Florida. Her husband, Félix Martín Milanés Fajardo, had been arrested the month prior, in December.

Both were tried on October 2 after the court date had been postponed twice. The delay caused the Cuban justice’s decision to take place just three days after the United States decided to withdraw most of their diplomatic staff from its embassy in Havana.

The family of the accused could have get the trial waved, according to a source consulted by the newspaper Martí Noticias. The mother of López Miyares, a resident of Miami, was able to see her daughter at the entrance of the court, but could not enter the room.

“The prisoners had been instructed to change their statements in order to influence the verdict,” the same source said.

The couple, who has been married for more than 10 years, each received lengthy sentences: 13 years in prison for López Miyares and 17 years for Milanés Fajardo. The sentence will be finalized on October 24. The defendants are reportedly expected to file an appeal.

The ruling comes amid growing bilateral tensions over alleged “sonic attacks” on the island against two dozen US diplomats.

Former CIA Historian: ALL Agency Assets in Cuba, East Germany & Russia Were “Double Agents” 11

CIACIA Fooled by Massive Cold War Double-Agent Failure

All recruits in East Germany, Cuba, and Russia fooled agency

BY: Bill Gertz, Washington Free Beacon

The CIA was fooled by scores of double agents pretending to be working for the agency but secretly loyal to communist spy agencies during the Cold War and beyond, according to a former CIA analyst, operations officer, and historian.

The large-scale deception included nearly 100 fake CIA recruits in East Germany, Cuba, as well as the Soviet Union (and later Russia) who supplied false intelligence that was passed on to senior U.S. policymakers for decades.

“During the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency bucked the law of averages by recruiting double agents on an industrial scale; it was hoodwinked not a few but many times,” writes Benjamin B. Fischer, CIA’s former chief historian.

“The result was a massive but largely ignored intelligence failure,” he stated in a journal article published last week.

The failure to recognize the double agents and their disinformation designed to influence U.S. policies “wreaked havoc” on the agency, Fischer wrote in the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence.

Fischer stated that the failure to prevent the double agent deception was dismissed by the CIA as insignificant, and that congressional oversight committees also did not press the agency to reform its vetting processes.

Fischer was a career CIA officer who joined the agency in 1973 and worked in the Soviet affairs division during the Cold War. He later sued the agency in 1996, charging he was mistreated for criticizing the agency for mishandling the 1994 case of CIA officer Aldrich Ames, a counterintelligence official, who was unmasked as a long time KGB plant.

Critics have charged the agency with harboring an aversion to counterintelligence—the practice of countering foreign spies and the vetting of the legitimacy of both agents and career officers. Beginning in the 1970s, many in the CIA criticized counter-spying, which often involved questioning the loyalties of intelligence personnel, as “sickthink.”

The agency’s ability to discern false agents turned deadly in 2009 when a Jordanian recruit pretending to work for CIA killed a group of seven CIA officers and contractors in a suicide bombing at a camp in Afghanistan.

Feature continues here: CIA’s Total Failure


US-Cuban Cooperation in Law Enforcement: Past Failures Reborn 3

FBI Wanted PosterBy Chris Simmons

Two days ago, the State Department proudly announced its hosting of an “inaugural Law Enforcement Dialogue” with the Castro regime.

While this idea may seem new to the White House, Washington and Havana actually have a long history of failed cooperation in the law enforcement and security arenas. For example, following Cuba’s November 1995 arrest of Directorate of Intelligence (DI) communications specialist Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, regime authorities rightfully assumed it was only a matter of time before the US began finding and arresting many of its US-based spies. In anticipation, several months later, Havana took the self-serving step of providing “intelligence reporting” to the FBI on alleged anti-Castro activities by Cuban exiles in Florida. Most of the “intelligence” was little more than newspaper clippings and summaries of TV and radio commentaries.

Viewed as a waste of time by Washington authorities, the meetings actually accomplished an important hidden agenda. In 1998, 10 members of the Wasp Network were arrested in South Florida. Almost immediately, Cuba revealed its previously secret 1996 meetings with the FBI and claimed it told the Bureau it had agents in Florida for “defensive purposes” to protect it from Cuban-Americans. During the Wasp’s subsequent trial, Havana incessantly highlighted its alleged cooperation with US law enforcement and was even allowed to send Roberto Hernandez Caballero, a career Directorate of Counterintelligence (DCI) officer, to testify on its spies’ behalf.

In 2011, Havana mocked the US legal system by again sending Colonel Hernandez Caballero to testify in a US court – this time against anti-Castro militant, Luis Posada Carriles.

Similarly, decades earlier, when several senior Cuban officials were indicted for their participation in regime-sanctioned drug trafficking, Havana quickly attempted to showcase past efforts at counterdrug cooperation with the US Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement Administration.

Given the institutionalized consistency of the Castro regime’s senior leaders, this latest initiative is doomed to failure — just like every one of its predecessors.

Was Castro Regime Complicit in Human Trafficking Ring? 8

Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin

Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin

14-Plus Years For Cuban Ballplayer Smuggler

By Curt Anderson, AP Legal Affairs Writer

MIAMI — The convicted ringleader of a smuggling organization that brought more than 1,000 Cubans into the U.S., some of them baseball players including Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin, was sentenced Monday to more than 14 years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard rejected a request for leniency by Eliezer Lazo, whom she noted was paid $22,000 a month through the scheme — not counting the percentages of any professional baseball contracts the players signed. Prosecutors say Martin paid the Lazo group $1.2 million after signing with the Rangers in 2011.

“That’s a lot of money,” Lenard said.

Lazo, 41, will begin serving the sentence after finishing an unrelated five-year prison term for money laundering in a Medicare fraud case. In the smuggling case, he pleaded guilty in August to extortion conspiracy.

The Lazo organization smuggled Cubans by boat to Mexico for $10,000 each, more for the baseball players, according to court documents. They would then usually travel to the U.S. border crossing at Laredo, Texas, and ask to be permitted to stay in the U.S.

Under the U.S. “wet foot, dry foot” policy, Cubans who reach dry land in the U.S. are generally allowed to remain while those intercepted at sea are returned to the communist island. Lazo’s attorney, William Clay, said many of Lazo’s customers were overjoyed to make it to the U.S. despite the costs.

“They had gotten what they bargained for,” Clay said.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Davidson said migrants who couldn’t pay were held for ransom by armed guards, often threatened and sometimes beaten. Although Lazo himself did not participate in any violence, Davidson said he was well aware it was going on.

“This man is not a freedom fighter,” Davidson said.

The case also provided a glimpse into how Mexican drug cartels get their cut of the migrant smuggling business. Court documents show that in the Cancun area, the Zetas cartel charges Cuban smugglers $10,000 per boat and up to $3,000 per migrant to allow them to pass through their territory and assist in paying bribes to local officials.

No evidence surfaced in the case that Martin or any of the other valuable Cuban ballplayers were mistreated. Only Martin has been identified by name in the Lazo case, but other Cuban stars such as Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig have also been smuggled through Mexico.

Read more here: Human Trafficking



Cuban Defector Says He Has Information About Payá’s Death 1

DTI identity document (Courtesy America TeVe)

DTI identity document (Courtesy America TeVe)

By Juan O. Tamayo, Miami Herald

An officer in Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior who claims to be related to former MININT chief Jose Abrantes and to have valuable information has defected and is being held in a migrant detention center in the Bahamas.

Ortelio Abrahantes Bacallao, 42, claims that fellow counterintelligence agents told him that dissident Osvaldo Payá was killed when intelligence agents rammed his car in an attempt to stop and search it, and not in a one-car accident as the Cuban government claims.

None of the claims could be independently confirmed. But he has documents identifying him as a member of MININT’s Technical Investigations Directorate, a police-like unit that investigates common crimes, and a graduate of MININT’s law school.

Abrahantes Bacallao told El Nuevo Herald he held the rank of major in MININT’s Directorate of Counterintelligence (DCI) and was last in charge of all the ministry’s land and sea transportation operations in the province of Ciego de Avila, in central Cuba. The powerful ministry is in overall charge of the island nation’s domestic security.

The defector said he launched his escape March 24 from a key off the northern coast of the province aboard a MININT-owned sailboat, but was picked up three days later by the U.S. Coast Guard and was taken to the Bahamas. He is being held at the Carmichael Road migrant detention center in Nassau.

Bahamian police and United Nations officials have interviewed him for his application for political asylum, Abrahantes Bacallao said. But he fears he will be murdered if the Nassau government repatriates him to Cuba before the application is processed.

“I know too much. They would love to have me in their hands,” Abrahantes Bacallao told El Nuevo Herald. His Miami lawyer, David Alvarez, said he “faces being executed if he returns to Cuba because he was involved in the military.”

The defector said his father was a cousin of Interior Minister Gen. José Abrantes, who was arrested in 1989 and charged with failing to stop the drug trafficking and corruption that led to the execution of Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa and three others that same year. He was serving a 20-year prison term when he died in 1991 in what friends described as mysterious circumstances.

Although Abrahantes Bacallao spells his surname differently from Jose Abrantes, he has claimed that his birth certificate spells it the same way and that the “h” was added when he joined the MININT. Official Cuban records often contain misspellings.

The defector said he heard details about the Payá case during a party with other DCI officers about one month after his death on July 22, 2012, in what Cuban officials portrayed as a one-car accident caused by his driver, Spanish politician Angel Carromero. The Spaniard has insistently alleged that he was rammed from behind by another vehicle.

Feature continues here:  Did DCI Murder Payá?


US Takes a Step Towards Cuba 3

Moscow’s anti-US “RT” continues the myth of 638 failed assassination attempts against Cuba. The storyline was first established by “retired” Cuban counterintelligence chief Fabian Escalante in his disingenuous book, “EXECUTIVE ACTION: 634 Ways to Kill Fidel.” Hilariously, one year later, director Dollan Cannell made a movie based on the book, but increased the number to 638 alleged assassination attempts.

BREAKING NEWS: Cuba Spied on Terry McAuliffe 9

Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Likely Received Special Attention

By Chris Simmons

The Directorate of Intelligence, Cuba’s primary foreign intelligence service, spied on Terry McAuliffe before and during a four-day trade mission to Havana. The experienced politico undertook the trip in April 2010 as a personal quest to increase Cuban purchases of Virginia agricultural products.

Given the Directorate’s intimate understanding of the American political arena, it undoubtedly awarded McAuliffe a level of attention fair beyond normal business travelers since his return to politics was virtually assured. At the time of the Cuba visit, McAuliffe had recently failed in his 2009 gubernatorial bid. His earlier political efforts included running Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, service as DNC Chair (2001-2005) and co-chairing Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign.

Cuban targeting was likely triggered by McAuliffe’s trip preparation. More specifically, his meetings with Jorge Bolaños, the “retired” spy who headed the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC from 2008-2012. The CIA identified Bolaños as a suspected intelligence officer in the early 1970s. More recently, former Directorate of Intelligence (DI) Lieutenant Juan Manuel Reyes Alonso confirmed Bolaños’ intelligence service. He also opined that Bolaños’ multiple ambassadorial tours suggest that at some point he began working his cover identity more than his intelligence mission.

However, Reyes Alonso also noted that Bolaños maintained close ties with staff members of two of Cuba’s five spy services as well as the Superior Institute of Intelligence (ISI), where the regime’s civilian intelligence officers are trained. The de facto ambassador was also a close friend of (then) ISI Director, Nestor Garcia Iturbe, one of the regime’s top experts in targeting Americans. Normally, Cuban diplomats distance themselves from intelligence services because such ties can cripple their careers when counterintelligence services suspect them of being intelligence collaborators or undercover officers.

Upon arrival in Cuba, McAuliffe met with the leadership of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Trade’s Empresa Comercializadora de Alimentos. Known as “ALIMPORT,” this government agency coordinates all overseas purchases and its director authorizes the import of products to Cuba. Significantly, the DI provides the ALIMPORT head and his staff with detailed biographical reporting on every member of a trade delegation, with emphasis on their personal strengths and weaknesses.

This sharing of biographic data with ALIMPORT “is a normal procedure of the Cuban Intelligence” according to Juan Antonio Rodriguez Menier, a former DI Major. Rodriguez Menier said the spy agency’s information is focused on any detail that can provide Havana an edge during negotiations with a foreign delegation.
His assessment is echoed by Reyes Alonso, who declared “Cuban Intelligence always does that with high government officials that will meet with foreigners, especially those coming from the US.” Having previously worked in the spy service’s “Science & Technology” department, Reyes Alonso told the Miami Herald earlier this year that the DI also recruited collaborators within ALIMPORT to “identify possible targets to do industrial and corporate espionage.”

McAuliffe and his entourage subsequently remained under Cuban Intelligence control when they stayed at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Featuring a staff rife with DI informants, the Hotel Nacional is known to be wired for video and audio surveillance of foreign guests.

Cuban Intelligence tradecraft also calls for recruitment efforts targeted against the close associates of important visitors. In this “one-off” technique, the DI or the Directorate of Counterintelligence seek individuals who – according to Reyes Alonso – “are usually more vulnerable, less visible and easier to follow up with at later times.” When successful, this approach provides indirect access to the targeted principal and opens the door for the new spy to follow their American mentor to higher positions in the future.

Agricultural Leaders Also Targeted

The Commonwealth’s food sales to Cuba have skyrocketed from $838,000 in 2003 to a record-setting $66 million in 2012. Virginia is now the second largest US exporter of agricultural products to the Caribbean island. As such, Cuba has also spied on Agriculture Secretary Todd Haymore and key members of the Farm Bureau, the USA Rice Federation, Purdue AgriBusiness, Smithfield Foods and Crown Orchards. Haymore – who, like McAuliffe, maintained a close working relationship with retired spy Jorge Bolaños — led his sixth annual trade mission to Cuba last November.

Editor’s Note: The author is internationally renowned as one of America’s foremost experts on Cuba’s intelligence services.

The republishing of this article is permissible if the author is acknowledged as the originator.

La Incógnita Cubana 2

Hugo Chávez, presidente de Venezuela, lucha por su vida en La Habana. Su muerte puede causar serias dificultades en varios países de habla hispana, que afectarían los Estados Unidos y Europa.

No está claro como se sustituye en Venezuela un presidente en funciones que ha muerto. No soy creyente de las encuestas porque generalmente se inclinan por la ideología y los intereses que tengan quienes las realizan, no obstante diré que una de la ultimas hechas en ese país indica que 8 de cada 10 venezolanos desaprueba la entrega del petróleo “gratis” de su país a varias naciones vecinas, incluyendo Cuba. 7 de cada 10 venezolanos creen que los cubanos están gobernando su patria y lo desaprueban.

En la esquina opuesta los gobiernos y pueblos de los países vecinos que reciben petróleo venezolano están sumamente preocupados porque creen que con la muerte de Chávez se les acaba una ayuda económica muy importante. Especialmente Nicaragua y Cuba.

Raúl Castro, presidente de Cuba, es muy pragmático, pero también tan osado como su hermano Fidel, el cual todavía le da determinadas órdenes. ¿Qué hace un hombre muy inteligente a sus 84 años como Fidel Castro, con su mente lúcida y sin nada que hacer después de pasar su vida haciendo conspiraciones y luchas nacionales e internacionales? Pensar en como subsistir políticamente y causarle el mayor daño posible a sus enemigos, ya que la guadaña para él está cerca.

El Comandante Ramiro Valdes Menéndez, que fue el primer Jefe y por muchos anos de los Servicios de Contrainteligencia e Inteligencia de Cuba, desde meses vive más en Caracas que en La Habana, asesorando en “cuestiones energéticas”. En 53 años de gobierno revolucionario en Cuba Ramiro jamas ha tenido que ver con “cuestiones energéticas”, sin embargo, fue Ministro del Interior dos veces. La actividad de Ministerio del Interior venezolano está en sus manos. Los principales dirigentes de ese ministerio son “asesores cubanos”. Además, existe una considerable fuerza de las Tropas Especiales de Cuba. Si hubiera una insubordinación ciudadana peligrosa después de la muerte de Chávez, Ramiro actuará en consecuencia. Esto tal vez sea el preludio de una guerra civil que podría dañar seriamente los fértiles pozos petroleros venezolanos.

Si lo antes expuesto sucediera, la situación económica-social en Cuba se apretaría aún más y pudiera ser la mecha que detonara una violencia popular. Hay muchos “tronados”, dirigentes políticos y militares de distintos niveles que han sido destituidos, tanto por Fidel como por Raúl, que pudieran dirigir esa violencia popular y convertirla en una grave amenaza para el gobierno actual de Cuba, que respondería con todas sus fuerzas. El Castrismo jamas cederá el poder de ninguna forma.

De estallar una guerra civil en Cuba, los resultados son imprevisibles. El gobierno Castrista posee armas bacteriológicas y químicas. He recibido información de una persona que fue un compañero de armas y amigo mío durante 30 años y que reside en Cuba, de que han entrado misiles por el Puerto del Mariel, en la provincia de Pinar del Río, Cuba.

Las causas que pudieran desencadenar estos nefastos sucesos no pueden ser ya evitadas, pero al menos pudieran ser limitados sus efectos si se efectúan determinadas medidas políticas-militares.

Juan Antonio Rodriguez Menier

Falling Short in Understanding Cuban Intelligence: Part I in a Series 5

In “Cuba’s Intelligence Machine,” the newly released assessment by The University of Miami’s Cuba Transition Project, Dr. Brian Latell provides a breezy and very readable summary of Cuban Intelligence with two notable exceptions:

  1. The primary mission and target of Cuban Intelligence is incorrect.
  2. The number of Cuban operations known to have been destroyed/degraded by US Counterintelligence is grossly understated.

Today, I will address the first issue.   In “Cuba’s Intelligence Machine,” Latell claims the United States is “the raison d’être” of Cuban intelligence, according to still another experienced defector I interviewed.” 

In reality, the primary target of the Castro regime’s intelligence services are the Cuban people.  The core mission of its five-service Intelligence Community remains regime protection.    Maintaining domestic stability in support of government continuity is the overriding concern.  This is consistent with other totalitarian regimes and characterized by its two Counterintelligence services dominating the manpower of Cuba’s Intelligence Community.  The collection of intelligence on foreign enemies has remained second to domestic control and monitoring of the Cuban people.

Historically, Castro’s foreign intelligence services focused on the collection of intelligence on foreign enemies. Throughout the Cold War, these services were also viewed as primary tools “to export the Revolution.”  Currently, the United States is the regime’s sole foreign target. 

According to defector Juan Antonio Rodriguez Menier, the General Directorate of Counterintelligence (DGCI) [now called simply the Directorate of Counterintelligence (DCI)], has remained the most important intelligence service in revolutionary Cuba.  According to the Library of Congress, at its peak, the DGCI/DCI numbered 20,000 personnel.  However, as the Castro regime consolidated its domestic controls, the DGCI/DCI drew down.  At the time of Rodriguez Menier’s 1987 defection, its manpower had declined to roughly 3,000 personnel.  

Likewise, during the Cold War, the Cuban Military’s Counterintelligence service (CIM) was reportedly as large as the DGCI/DCI.  However, during the 1990s, armed forces manning was slashed by an estimated 53 percent.  This likely led to similar manpower cuts in the CIM.  Despite these losses, according to defectors and émigrés, the CIM still reportedly numbers several thousand personnel. 

In stark contrast to Havana’s robust Counterintelligence organizations, its three foreign intelligence services, the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DIM), and the intelligence wing of the Cuban Communist Party number less than 3,300 total personnel.

Latell’s error has been to focus overwhelmingly on the DI, rather than examine Cuba’s entire “intelligence machine.”  Additionally, his research is further undermined by excessive reliance of DI defectors.  The US has been blessed with an abundance of Cuban defectors and émigrés, many of which can and have provided ample insights into the inner workings of regime intelligence.  This information is further enhanced by intelligence provided by defectors from Cuba’s Cold War allies.   Successful US Counterintelligence investigations and operations have also produced a veritable treasure trove of information on Havana’s “intelligence machine.”  For example, government holdings from the Wasp Network alone are said to number roughly 100,000 pages. 

Brian Latell has devoted his life to providing valuable insights into regime dynamics in general and the Castro brothers in particular.  That said, when it comes to Cuba’s spy services, I fear he has stepped outside his realm of expertise.

See his assessment, “Cuba’s Intelligence Machine,” here:  The July 2012 Latell Report