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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
07/08/2010

Members of international kidnapping ring that smuggled Cubans through Mexico indicted

TAMPA, Fla. - An indictment unsealed Wednesday charges three Cuban nationals with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, kidnapping, and extortion, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations special agents.

Brothers Carlos Martinez de la Flor, 32, and Hector Daniel Camejo de la Flor, 23, and their uncle Alexis Alberto Viltres Ramos, 42, each face a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted on all counts. Martinez de la Flor lived in Mexico and formerly in Miami, and Camejo de la Flor and Viltres Ramos are both of Miami.

The three were members of a conspiracy that lured Cubans with relatives in the United States to board boats from Cuba that were supposedly destined for Florida. Once the victims boarded the boats, the conspirators took them to Mexico and held them for ransom.

The conspirators told one of their victims, whose father was living in Florida, that unless someone came up with the ransom, he would be beaten to death. They called his father and told him that if he wanted to see his son again, he had to come up with the ransom money.

Martinez de la Flor allegedly ran the house in Mexico where the conspirators kept their victims and demanded ransom from the father.

Camejo de la Flor and Viltres Ramos, who were living in Florida, allegedly picked up the ransom money that the father ultimately paid to secure his son's release.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas N. Palermo.