MIAMI -- Four high-ranking Cuban officials, including the head of the navy and the ambassador to Colombia, were indicted with 10 others in a multi-million dollar smuggling operation that used Cuba as a loading station to get drugs into the United States.
U.S. Attorney Stanley Marcus, in announcing the indictments Friday, said the drugs were shipped from Colombia to Cuba, loaded onto ships there and sent to the United States. From 1979 to 1981, 5 million methaqualone tablets and 'multi-thousand pounds' of marijuana were shipped through Cuba, he said.
Marcus said the methaqualone had a street value of $30 million. The value of the marijuana was uncertain.
The indictment accused the current head of the Cuban navy, while a vice admiral, of supplying and protecting smugglers' ships that carried quaaludes and marijuana to the United States.
Marcus would not comment on whether Premier Fidel Castro or other officials of the Cuban government knew about the operation.
He said it would be impossible to prosecute the Cubans because the United States does not have diplomatic relations with the Castro regime.
The eight-count indictment charged the defendants with conspiracy to import and possess, with intent to unlawfully import, methaqualone tablets and marijuana.
The drug smugglers given haven by the Cubans also shipped guns to Latin American leftist guerrillas, authorities said.
The Cubans indicted were: Aldo Santamaria-Cuadrado, head of the navy and a member of the Communist Central Committee; Fernando Ravelo-Renedo, ambassador to Colombia; Gonzalo Bassols-Suarez, a former staff member at the Cuban embassy in Colombia; and Rene Rodriguez-Cruz, a Central Committee member and president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the People.
'Cuadrado supervised in Cuba the protection and supply of the ships,' Marcus said.
The operation's kingpin was believed to be Jaime Guillot-Lara, a Colombian who reportedly was recently released from a Mexican prison and is in Cuba. Agents with the Florida Deparment of Law Enforcement said Guillot-Lara smuggled drugs through Cuba and, in return for haven, smuggled guns to leftist guerrillas.
Two other Colombians also were indicted. They are Levinio Orovio-Michelnea, a 'mother ship' officer who is still at large, and Julian Losada, who allegedly loaded the boats in Colombia and remains there.
An American, Jose Domingo Martinez-Valdez of Miami, is believed to be in the United States.
The rest of the defendants, all from south Florida, already were in prison on other charges when the indictments were handed down. They are David Lorenzo Perez Jr., Hector Gonzalez-Quinones, Jorge Felipe Llerena-Delgado, Jose Rafael Martinez, Corneilio Ramos-Valladares and Alberto Cortez.