[Ppnews] Puerto Rico - Macheteros Claim Evidence Of Police Bugging
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Sep 1 19:19:34 EDT 2011
Macheteros Claim Evidence Of Police Bugging
FBI Interested In Puerto Rican Nationalist Group
By EDMUND H. MAHONY and HILDA MUÑOZ,
<mailto:emahony at courant.com>emahony at courant.com The Hartford Courant
7:09 p.m. EDT, September 1, 2011
A high-profile Puerto Rican nationalist claims an
apparent electronic tracking device he found
attached to his car was placed there by federal
authorities in an effort to intimidate him.
The claim was made by Hilton Fernandez-Diamante,
a member of the Puerto Rico pro-independence
group Los Macheteros, who was convicted of
participating in the group's robbery of $7.1
million from a Wells Fargo terminal in West Hartford in 1983.
The discovery of the electronic device on
Fernandez-Diamante's car is an embarrassment to
law enforcement at a time of increased FBI
attention to what authorities consider a
potentially violent element of the independence movement.
The device was installed in June while the car
was parked in a secure parking area at the
apartment tower complex where Fernandez-Diamante
lives in Trujillo Alto, south of San Juan. He and
others in the independence movement since have
obtained and made available to reporters
photographic and documentary evidence of the
installation of the device and an eyewitness account.
A security camera captured multiple photographs
of two law enforcement agents arriving over two
days, apparently to locate the car and later to
install the tracker. Apartment complex records
show they presented credentials to security
guards identifying themselves as agents of the
Police of Puerto Rico who needed access to the
parking area as part of a stolen car investigation.
One of Fernandez-Diamante's neighbors told
managers of the apartment complex that she became
so disturbed after seeing one of the agents
crawling around under Fernandez-Diamante's car
that she put on eyeglasses for a better view.
With her improved vision, the neighbor told the
complex managers she was able to record the
license plate number on the car driven by the two
agents the day the device was installed. Her
number matched that recorded by a security guard.
Associates of Fernandez-Diamante said they have
determined by tracing the registration
information that the car was rented from an agency.
The FBI would not discuss the incident, saying
through a spokesman in San Juan that it does not
discuss active investigations. A spokesman for
the Police of Puerto Rico could not be
immediately reached. However, a law enforcement
source who asked not to be identified said the
device emitted an electronic signal that would
have enabled agents to track the car.
Supporters of Puerto Rico's independence, who
have clashed for decades with federal and
Commonwealth police agencies, have not been
reluctant to discuss what they characterize as
another in decades of attempts by federal and
Commonwealth police agencies to suppress the
island's independence movement. They also are not
conceding that the device was tracking equipment and not a bomb.
A group organized to provide support to two
jailed members of Los Macheteros brothers
Avellino and Norberto Gonzalez-Claudio said in
a statement issued late Wednesday that the device
was installed a day after Fernandez-Diamante
agreed to act as a political spokesman for Norberto Gonzalez-Claudio.
"We wish to establish that this action on the
part of the government of the United States is
not going to stop the works of support and
solidarity towards our companions fighters and
combatants," the group said in a statement. "We
alert the Puerto Rican community to the
repressive activities of these two agents or any others."
Norberto Gonzalez-Claudio was apprehended by the
FBI in May in the central Puerto Rico town of
Cayey. He was charged with participating in the
Wells Fargo robbery after more than 25 years as a
fugitive. He is being held while awaiting trial.
Associates of Fernandez-Diamante said he learned
from neighbors that there was a device on his car
when he returned home in June from a trip to New
York to meet with Gonzalez-Claudio's lawyer. He
called the Police of Puerto Rico Bomb squad,
which removed the device after evacuating the
apartment complex in the densely populated area.
Managers of the apartment complex have written to
the FBI complaining that authorities refuse to
tell them what the device was or why it was
installed on a car belonging to one of their tenants.
Los Macheteros, which is Spanish for "machete
wielders" or "cane cutters," is a clandestine
organization that has limited itself mostly to
political support for Puerto Rican independence
in recent years. In the 1970s and '80s, it was
linked to several violent incidents, including
the deaths of U.S. military personal, rocket
attacks on federal buildings and the destruction of U.S. military aircraft.
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