[Ppnews] Machetero Leader Arrested In Puerto Rico
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Feb 7 16:59:47 EST 2008
Machetero Leader Arrested In Puerto Rico
By Edmund H. Mahony
Courant Staff Writer
2:55 PM EST, February 7, 2008
FBI agents in Puerto Rico said Thursday that they
arrested Avelino Gonzalez Claudio, a fugitive
member of the Puerto Rico pro-independence group
Los Macheteros who is charged in the 1983 robbery
of more than $7 million from a West Hartford amored car depot.
An FBI spokesman in San Juan said agents
apprehended Gonzalez Claudio, 65, without
incident at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at a housing
development in the north coast city of Manati.
Gonzalez Claudio has been a fugitive since
jumping bail in 1986 to avoid trial on charges associated with the robbery.
Gonzalez Claudio's apprehension appears connected
to renewed law enforcement interest in Los
Macheteros, which the FBI considers a potential domestic terror threat.
Los Macheteros, which established itself in the
1970s as a militant wing of the larger Puerto
Rico independence movement, had been largely
quiet for decades until September 2005, when FBI
agents shot and killed founder Filiberto Ojeda
Rios. Ojeda, another fugitive from federal
criminal charges, fired on agents when they tried to arrest him.
Since Ojeda's death, FBI agents have served
search warrants on suspected Los Macheteros
members or sympathizers in Puerto Rico and in New York.
In addition to the robbery of the former Wells
Fargo depot in West Hartford, Los Macheteros
claimed credit in the late 1970s and early 1980s
for, among other things, eight bombings, the
destruction of 11 U.S. military aircraft, the
shooting deaths of two U.S. sailors and a rocket
attack on the federal courthouse in San Juan.
Law enforcement and other sources believe
Gonzalez Claudio was a senior member of the
doctrinaire, Marxist organization, which received
financial and other support from the government
of Cuban President Fidel Castro. A significant
amount of evidence developed through a variety of
Los Macheteros investigations shows that the
Cuban government received roughly half the $7
million stolen during the Wells Fargo robbery.
The sources said Gonzalez Claudio held seats on
Los Machetero's two governing boards the
Directive and Central committees and was among
the senior members who voted to approve the Wells
Fargo robbery, the group's most highly publicized action.
In addition, the sources said Gonzalez Claudio
ran a cell that was responsible for the organization's military activities.
Ojeda and former Machetero Juan Segarra Palmer
recruited Hartford resident Victor Gerena to act
as their inside man in the Wells Fargo robbery.
Gerena, who worked as a Wells Fargo driver, tied
up his fellow employees and delivered the money to Ojeda and Segarra.
They, in turn, hid the money and Gerena behind
false walls built into a mobile home and
delivered the mobile home to a camp ground in
upstate New York where Gonzalez Claudio and three
others were waiting. Gonzalez Claudio and the
others then drove Gerena and the money into
Mexico, where they were met by Cuban security
forces. Gerena and the money later were
transported to Cuba, according to a former Cuban
security officer who was involved in the operation.
Copyright © 2008, <http://www.courant.com/>The Hartford Courant
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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