THE MIAMI MAFIA
The FBI preferred to ignore Santiago Alvarez’ eight AK47’s
BY JEAN-GUY ALLARD —special for Granma International—
THE arsenal of Santiago Alvarez and his accomplice Osvaldo Mitat that was found by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and which resulted in the arrest of the two terrorists does not constitute the first foray of Luis Posada Carriles’ "protector" in the world of arms trafficking and terror…
On Saturday March 10, 2001 Santiago Alvarez Fernández-Magriñá went to the Miami Police Supply store in the Coconut Grove Convention Center market located at 2700 South, Bay Shore Drive in Miami. He purchased, all at once, eight AK-47 rifles for $2,712 ($339 each), eight Makarov pistols for $1,112 ($139 each) and $400-worth of rounds for the rifles (2,000).
Alvarez was accompanied by Ihosvani Suris de la Torre, a member of the Comandos F-4 paramilitary organization, whose headquarters are located on the corner of 14th street and Flager, and which is headed by the well-known terrorist Rodolfo Frómeta Caballero.
He paid the bill but did not pick up the merchandise. According to the law, there is a waiting period of five days for security checks. Presumably such purchases are not common and the Miami FBI, then directed by Special Agent in Charge Héctor Pesquera, had all the means to be notified in time of this transaction that could not possibly be made without raising some suspicion.
With their multi-million dollar budget and hundreds of agents, it could not escape the FBI that such a significant arms sale to civilians would have to be related to something criminal.
A brief investigation could have quickly revealed the identity of the buyers to the local Federal Police chief’s men.
Nevertheless, nothing happened. On March 22 and 23 Suris was entrusted with picking up the eight AK-47’s, the eight Makarovs and the 2,000 rounds from the Miami Police Supply without the slightest difficulty.
Evidently, Suris was aware of the abnormal nature of the purchase. He delivered the weapons to the house of a friend named Carlos Deschamps, where they were stored until being directly handed over to Santiago Alvarez in the parking lot of the cafeteria located on the corner of 135th Street North West and Quinta Avenida in Miami, thus formalizing the acquisition of the weapons.
This more than suspicious purchase was followed by others in various stores of all kinds of paramilitary equipment, uniforms, boots, hatchets, knives and more ammunition.
Santiago Alvarez is a well-known throughout the Little Havana community as a Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF) boss.
Those who frequent these extremist circles know that this individual is the head of its paramilitary wing and that he is involved in the organization and funding of terrorist activities. None of this was apparently detected by Special Agent Pesquera’s investigators.
WHEN SURIS REAPPEARED ON THE CUBAN COAST
On April 26, 2001 at 6:20 p.m. near Sagua la Grande, the Cuban Border Patrol captured Suris de la Torre and two accomplices, Santiago Padrón and Máximo Madrera, all residents of Miami- Dade county, and confiscated several of the weapons bought in the Miami Police Supply store – AK-47 assault rifles, an M-3 rifle with a silencer and three semiautomatic Makarov pistols – those same weapons whose sale never interested Héctor Pesquera and his people.
A week later the Cuban Radio and TV Roundtable program had a surprise for its viewers: a video showing Ihosvani Suris de la Torre, after being arrested, talking on the phone with his Miami boss... Santiago Alvarez.
Suris asked the Miami terrorist, protected by the Héctor Pesquera’s FBI, if he should go forward with the Alvarez-led plot to cause an explosion at the Havana Tropicana cabaret, visited daily by hundreds of tourists. Alvarez, not knowing that his mercenary had been detained, encouraged him to continue with the criminal plan.
Despite the exposure of this public confession, Santiago Alvarez was in no way questioned by special agent Pesquera’s men.
A few months earlier, the FBI had heard but preferred to ignore the fact that, with CANF funds, this same Santiago Alvarez had helped Luis Posada Carriles, Pedro Remón, Gaspar Jiménez and Guillermo Novo Sampoll to gain easy access to C-4 explosives for their plan to place an explosive device in the amphitheater of the University of Panama, where President Castro was to speak before a multitude of students, workers, and representatives of indigenous communities.
After the arrest of those conspirators, Santiago Alvarez was left in peace in the United States, despite his active participation in the crime.
Moreover, he traveled several times from Miami to Panama, to bring the four detainees money and directions from his organization.
Until his activity was formally denounced to Interpol.
Now, no one in the judicial apparatus of Florida, the ICE and even less in the FBI, dares to open the explosive dossier of Posada’s arrival in the United States, organized, financed and carried out by Alvarez on his boat the Santrina.
No one has touched the dossier even though the crime was a serious violation of U.S. security laws.
Maneuvering from one perjury to the next, Alvarez and his friends are counting on a trial in Miami to avoid a disaster in which Posada’s "protector" could drag down a large part of the Miami mafia with him.
THREATS ON TV
Santiago Alvarez Fernández-Magriña is the grandson of an accomplice to the murder of the Cuban student hero Julio Antonio Mella, and the son of a Batista assassin who became senator for Matanzas, and a former member of the commando unit Operación 40 created by the CIA to carry out dirty deeds related to the Bay of Pigs invasion. He was later involved with Manuel Artime, a counterrevolutionary identified with the same agency.
The Radio-TV Roundtable that disclosed these latest biographical details on Alvarez also provided viewers with more elements explaining the total inertia of the U.S. federal police regarding Alvarez’ arsenal and many other crimes known to all of the Miami mafia.
A series of Miami television clips in which extremist leaders from that county have recently appeared, have exposed a grand threat and pressure operation taking shape now in south Florida to prevent Alvarez from being tried outside Miami, where he could face an impartial trial.
Many terrorists, in addition to José Basulto, have recently testified before Miami TV cameras to their criminal activities against Cuba and the aid that they have received from U.S. authorities.
For example, José Enrique Dauza, who claims to be a "lawyer and friend of Posada," shamelessly revealed a criminal activity he carried out with accomplices on U.S. territory, with the "protection of the CIA and the U.S. government."
"We handled all kinds of weapons and those supposedly federal arms have become scattered throughout Miami over 40 years," he added.
"Has that not changed in the wake of 9/11," the program presenter asked.
"…In 91, I already had a cache of arms, of AK-47’s and explosives for an operation that we were going to do in Cuba…"
"That is a violation of the neutrality act," commented the host.
"Of course," Dauza answered. I was in charge of providing the cover to transport the weapons and deliver them to where the boat would leave."
For his part, in an interview on a different occasion, murderer and torturer Félix Rodríguez Mendigutía, a personal friend of George Bush Sr. did not hide the fact that he was going to seek the release of Posada’s "protector" through political pressure.
"We can do everything within our reach through contacts with different authorities in this country, in personal contact that… I don’t think this is worth discussing here, but yes we are going to do whatever we can to help our comrade."
Félix Rodríguez was a torturer and drug trafficker in Vietnam. He participated in Operation Condor, ordered the killing of Che Guevara in Bolivia and directed, with Posada, the cocaine for arms trade at the Ilopango base in El Salvador that emerged during the Iran-Contra scandal.