14ymedio, Madrid, 7 February 2024 — A Cuban resident of Tampa, Florida, was accused on Tuesday by the United States Federal District Prosecutor’s Office of illegally transferring $100,000 from the Island to the United States. According to an official statement, Mirtza Ocaña, 38, faces a sentence of up to five years in prison if she is found guilty.
Ocaña was arrested last Monday, February 5, when she landed at Tampa International Airport on an international flight from Cuba and did not declare carrying money for an amount greater than 10,000 dollars, which requires the submission of the relevant forms. However, during a routine inspection, Department of Homeland Security agents found $30,000 in cash hidden in three packages of her luggage.
When they subjected her to a body search, the agents found another $70,000 in her clothes, and, in the interrogation after the discovery, Ocaña admitted that she flew between two and three times a month between Cuba and the United States to smuggle cash. The Cuban’s travel history revealed that, since May 2023, the woman had taken 45 trips from the Island.
The statement emphasizes that the procedure is ongoing and Ocaña has been accused of violating federal laws, but “that every accused is innocent unless and until guilt is proven
The case will be taken over by a National Security Investigation Unit and the U.S. Border and Customs Patrol, while the deputy federal prosecutor, Michael J. Buchanan, will formulate the accusation. The statement emphasizes that the procedure is ongoing and Ocaña has been accused of violating federal laws, but “that every accused is innocent unless and until guilt is proven.”
The case happened the same day that this newspaper learned, through Western Union headquarters, that the sending of remittances to Cuba could remain paralyzed until April. “There are problems with the banks in Cuba, and that has caused us to stop sending money. They are still working to solve the problem,” they said.
The sending of money through several agencies from the United States has been suspended since last Wednesday, January 31, hours before the increase in fuel prices was to come into effect. According to the version of the Cuban authorities, the state company Fincimex suffered a computer attack from abroad.
Meanwhile, the price of the dollar in the illegal market grows unstoppably and is about to reach 300, where the euro has been since yesterday. The currency thus detaches itself abysmally from the official exchange rate, which is set at 1 x 120 for the population.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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