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Cuban-Americans Indicted : Six Accused of Training Contras in Florida Camp

August 23, 1988|Associated Press

MIAMI — Six Cuban-Americans ran a mercenary training camp in Florida to aid Nicaraguan rebels, according to a federal indictment unsealed Monday.

One of the six is also accused of shipping a cannon, a mortar and other weapons to the Contras under the guise of humanitarian aid.

The Miami-area men allegedly violated the Neutrality Act, which bans private action against a government at peace with the United States. The indictment alleges that the defendants operated a 60-man training camp from June, 1983, to September, 1986.

Marijuana Charges

Eulalio Francisco Castro, 46, one of the two men who allegedly financed the camp near Naples, had been arrested here in June, 1983, for allegedly smuggling marijuana, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Jack Hook said Monday.

The mercenary camp allegedly began operations the same month, and the charges against Castro were subsequently dismissed. Hook said he did not know why the charges were dropped.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Mark Schnapp turned away questions about a possible drug link to the Contra aid operations. "There is no allegation of any drug shipment involved in any of this," Schnapp said.

Also indicted was Rene Corvo, who has been accused by some witnesses before congressional committees of engaging in drug traffic. A 1986 U.S. State Department report said there was no information connecting Corvo's group in Miami to drug smuggling.

Turn Themselves In

Corvo, Castro, Joseph Marcos and Sergio Becerra turned themselves in Monday in Ft. Lauderdale, and agents were trying to contact the other two defendants, Rafael Torres Jimenez and Francisco Hernandez.

Corvo faces the most serious charges in the indictment, which was prepared by the same federal grand jury that indicted Contra leader Adolfo Calero's brother, Mario Calero, ex-mercenary Jack Terrell and others on similar charges.

Corvo faces a maximum of 38 years in prison on four weapons charges plus counts of violating the Neutrality Act and conspiring to violate it. The other five face only the Neutrality Act violations and face a maximum of eight years in prison.

Former CIA Contact

In March, 1985, Corvo allegedly shipped nine weapons to Costa Rican anti-Sandinista groups through Ft. Lauderdale and El Salvador. One shipment allegedly landed on the ranch of John Hull, a one-time CIA contact, congressional witnesses and other reports said.

Castro and Marcos are accused of financing the camp's operations, while Corvo and the other three allegedly trained mercenaries, mostly Cubans and Nicaraguans, at the camp. The activities were apparently not secret, and the camp was filmed in 1985 by a television crew, Schnapp said.

Some of the defendants in the earlier case have argued that their activities were sanctioned and even directed by the Reagan Administration.

Schnapp said the new indictment did not include any evidence that the men were acting on behalf of the Administration.

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