Despite the presentation of evidence documenting Cuban espionage directed against the U.S. during the six-month Miami Wasp Network spy trial, national reporting on the case remains slim, and major media outlets continue to ignore the incident.
The case against the alleged spies recently went to the jury.
“Nobody believed there were spies in Miami until this case,” stated Ninoska Perez, spokeswoman for the Cuban American National Foundation, a leading anti-communist group in Miami. Perez stated that her group “heard for years” that Cuban agents were operating in the United States and that “eight or nine officials from Cuban intelligence” had defected to the U.S.
Of those agents who defected, “some went public, some remained anonymous,” Perez said in an interview with WorldNetDaily.
Cuban agents are still active in the U.S., Perez stated, quoting one of the ex-Cuban agents as saying that the Wasp Network is just “the tip of the iceberg.”
Perez deplores the low level of attention the espionage case is receiving, and states that most of the media support Cuba and would rather advocate trade and tourism.
Reporting espionage activities “would be a contradiction” to pro-Cuban policies, she said.
“The Cold War is not over,” Perez stated, when “totalitarian regimes like Castro” spy on the U.S. Perez speculated that information acquired by Cuban intelligence could be shared with nations hostile to the U.S. “What’s to prevent Cuba from giving this information to these countries?” she questioned.
The government of Fidel Castro has close relations with nations that the U.S. State Department labels as “states of concern,” those countries formerly known as “rogue states.”
Charges brought in the trial of the Cuban agents range from failure to register as a foreign agent to murder. Intelligence operations carried out by the ring extended from infiltration of military bases to attempting to smuggle explosives into the U.S.
The Wasp Network, the name the group selected for itself, originally comprised 14 members. After the espionage ring was broken in 1998, five of the group cooperated with federal authorities, four fled to Cuba, and five chose to stand trial.
The alleged leader of the Wasp Network, Gerardo Hernandez, is accused of conspiracy to commit murder for his part in the deaths of four individuals who were killed after a Cuban MiG fighter shot down their aircraft. Federal prosecutors assert that Hernandez provided the information that enabled the Cuban jets to make the interception.
The four men killed were part of a group called Brothers to the Rescue, an organization seeking to offer assistance to those fleeing Cuba.
The defendants in the Wasp Network trial assert that they were not spying on the U.S., but seeking information on the activities of anti-Castro Cubans in Miami.
Miami office FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela told WND that U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard’s “gag order” remains in force until after the jury returns its verdict, and, as a consequence of the order, FBI personnel are still unable to comment on the case.
According to reports, one of the tactics used by the Wasp Network was to place operatives in low-level jobs, which would provide them ample opportunity to gain information on targeted personnel and areas. One Wasp Network member held a position as a janitor.
Network members attempted to acquire information in a variety of ways, including observing aircraft outside of military bases, working in clinics close to military bases to obtain access to base personnel medical records, and seeking to infiltrate the offices of two of the area’s congressional representatives, Ilena Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Diaz-Balart.
Neither Ros-Lehtinen’s nor Diaz-Balart’s office was able to provide immediate comment on the reported infiltration attempt.
In addition to information on military operations and personal data, according to reports, the group also sought to determine the best entry points for the importation of high explosives into Florida, especially through the Florida Keys.
Some of the explosives were intended for use against opponents of the communist Cuban regime in the U.S.
Perez cited statements from one former Cuban agent stating that the Wasp Network could represent a wide system of Cuban intelligence operating in the U.S. According to Perez’s source, the Cuban government makes a practice of sending more than one spy group against an espionage target so that whatever information is obtained can be cross-verified.