Back in September of 1998, as many lawmakers lobbied to lift sanctions against the communist Castro dictatorship, the FBI uncovered the largest ever Cuban spy ring that murdered American citizens.
24 years ago the FBI broke up the WASP network, the largest Cuban terror spy ring ever discovered in the U.S.
Twenty four years ago on Saturday, September 12, 1998, the largest Cuban spy ring ever uncovered in the United States, was broken up by the FBI. Ten suspects were charged as Cuban spies. The Cuban dictatorship is attempting to whitewash this history. This CubaBrief aims to set the record straight.
The ten members of the WASP network captured are: GERARDO HERNANDEZ, 31 (alias Manuel Viramontes), the spymaster; FERNANDO GONZALEZ, 33 (alias Ruben Campa), and RAMON LABANINO, 30 (alias Luis Medina), another Cuban intelligence officer. The remaining seven were mid-level or junior agents who passed their reports to one of these three senior agents. Included were ANTONIO GUERRERO, 39, who observed aircraft landings at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station from his job as a sheet-metal worker there; ALEJANDRO ALONSO, 39, a boat pilot; and RENE GONZALEZ, 42, a skilled aircraft pilot and the only Cuban national among these seven. Both joined the Democracy Movement to report on its nonviolent activities against the Castro regime. Two married couples, all American citizens, also worked in the spy network: NILO and LINDA HERNANDEZ, ages 44 and 41 respectively, and JOSEPH and AMARYLIS SANTOS, both 39.
JUAN PABLO ROQUE, an eleventh spy also charged and linked to the 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down, had already fled to Cuba, a day before Cuban MiGs launched missiles destroying two planes, and killing four. Three others identified as John Does were also charged.
Five defendants, Alejandro Alonzo, Nilo Hernandez and Linda Hernandez, Joseph Santos and Amarylis Santos, accepted plea bargains and cooperated with prosecutors. These five Cuban spies provided information about the other five.
The other five spies eventually went on trial. The trial revealed that the Cuban spy ring was engaged in both espionage and terrorism.
The Wasp Network engaged in espionage: targeted U.S. military facilities, planned to smuggle arms and explosives into the United States, provided information that led to the extrajudicial killings of Armando Alejandre, Carlos Costa, Mario de la Peña and Pablo Morales on February 24, 1996, infiltrated two non-violent exile groups, and carried out numerous other activities to sow division, shape public opinion, and meddle in U.S. elections.
The Cuban spy network gathered personal information on American military personnel “compiling the names, home addresses, and medical files of the U.S. Southern Command’s top officers and that of hundreds of officers stationed at Boca Chica Naval Station in Key West.”
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