Published Thursday, November 21, 1996, in the Miami Herald

Congressmen: Administration must address Cuba cocaine connection

Associated Press The Clinton administration must deal with Cuban leader Fidel Castro's involvement in cocaine smuggling to the United States, three Republican members of Congress said Tuesday in a letter to the nation's drug czar. ``Congress will not permit the administration to sweep this issue under the rug,'' said U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Miami, joined by Reps. Dan Burton of Indiana and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami in sending the letter to retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey. The letter cited the 1982 indictment of four senior aides to Castro, the 1987 conviction of 17 South Florida drug smugglers who allegedly used Cuban military air bases to smuggle Colombian cocaine into South Florida, and several seizures of cocaine that federal agents say came through Cuba. Five suspected traffickers, four Cuban Americans and a Colombian, were arrested in Miami in January with a shipment of cocaine and Cuban cigars. The men said a freighter from Colombia off-loaded almost 5,665 pounds of cocaine to their speedboats inside Cuban waters after stopping in Havana to unload a shipment of toiletries. One of the men, Jorge Cabrera, gave $20,000 to the Democratic Party and attended a White House Christmas party hosted by Hillary Rodham Clinton before his arrest in January and later conviction and 19-year sentence. Embarrassed Democratic Party officials said they have no way of screening every contributor's legal past. His donation was returned.
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