Cuban dictator Fidel Castro allegedly financed and supported the costliest cash robbery in U.S. history, the 1983 theft of $7 million from a Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford.
Edmund Mahony reports,
Castro Had Secret Role In Infamous Wells Fargo Robbery
Weeks before the robbery, Masetti said, he delivered $50,000 to the Macheteros on orders from his superiors in Castro’s Department of the Americas, the Cuban agency created to support revolutionary movements. The money was for the motor homes the Macheteros used to smuggle [Víctor] Gerena and the $7 million into Mexico. Masetti said he was waiting at the border and helped disguise Gerena, gave him a Cuban passport and arranged his flight from Mexico City to Havana.
Masetti said the Cuban government also provided the Macheteros with radio equipment and advice about narcotics that could be used to incapacitate guards. Afterward, Cuba kept about half the stolen money, according to conversations the FBI later intercepted among members of Los Macheteros.
Fidel had fostered the Puerto Rican Macheteros,
In the period leading up to the Wells Fargo robbery, the Macheteros, or machete wielders, were one of two groups making up the violent wing of the independence movement. The other was the Armed Forces of National Liberation, know by the Spanish acronym FALN.
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The man credited with organizing both groups was Filiberto Ojeda Rios, a Puerto Rican Independentista who moved with his family to Cuba two years after Castro took power and who became an officer in the Cuban intelligence service.
Ojeda was implicated in a rocket attack on the federal courthouse in San Juan which was carried out with weapons abandoned by the U.S. in Vietnam and shipped through Cuba to the Macheteros. He died in 2005 during a shootout with the FBI in Puerto Rico.
Víctor Gerena, the Wells Fargo thief, is believed to still be in Cuba, along with William Morales, a convicted bomb-maker for the FALN on the Fraunces Tavern explosion.
Cross-posted at WoW! Magazine.