[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

<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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