14ymedio, Madrid, 9 February 2024 — Mirtza Ocaña, the Cuban mule detained in Tampa with $100,000 in her clothes and luggage, charged between $1,000 and $2,500 for moving money between the United States and Cuba, according to the complaint against her, to which el Nuevo Herald had access. The judge handling the case ordered her to be release on probation, with an electronic device, after hearing her statement on Tuesday and ordered her to seek employment and “psychiatric” treatment, in addition to handing over her passport.
However, nothing is known at the moment about the origin of the funds. It is surprising, however, that a ’mule’ could travel so often to Havana and take out enormous amounts of dollars without the Cuban authorities noticing, since controls are strict at the airport and the law prohibits exporting more than 5,000 dollars outside the Island without authorization from the Central Bank.
The experts consulted by ’el Nuevo Herald’ believe that the cash may come from private ’MSMEs’, which need to send money outside the country to pay their suppliers abroad
It is worth remembering the regrets from several spokespersons for the regime who have complained bitterly on many occasions that the US “blockade” supposedly prevented them from placing the dollars of their Central Bank in the international financial system and that the situation forced them to look for more onerous alternative means.
Experts consulted by el Nuevo Herald believe that the cash could be from private MSMEs (micro, small and medium sized enterprises), which need to send money outside the country to pay their suppliers abroad, or money from the sales of their homes that individual Cubans want to deposit in foreign bank accounts.
Ocaña, 38, is currently unemployed and does not speak English, but last September she created the company Ocana & Paradise, LLC. The publications she made about herself on her social networks, announcing air and sea shipments of food and medicine to Cuba, show that she acted as a ’mule’.
Last Sunday, Ocaña arrived at the Tampa International Airport from the Island when, in a supposedly routine search, $10,000 was found in three packages inside her suitcase, the maximum authorized without having to present a statement to the authorities.
Ocaña stated that she did not have any more cash, but in the body search that the customs agents carried out when they found the money, they revealed that she had 70,000 dollars stuffed in her clothes, which can results in everything from seizure and an administrative fine to criminal charges for the crime of smuggling, punishable by up to five years in prison in the United States.
The euro reached 302 Cuban pesos this Friday and the dollar, about to touch the 300 barrier, holds at 298
The Cuban woman then admitted that she had traveled to the island at least two or three times a month from May 2023, up to a total of 45 flights, according to airport records. The document drawn up by the agents states that she was aware that she was committing an illegal activity and that “they paid her between $1,000 and $2,500 per trip.”
Neither the Tampa Public Defender’s Office nor the U.S. Attorney’s office in that area would comment to the press.
Meanwhile, in the informal currency market, the exchange rate continues unstoppable. According to El Toque records, the euro reached 302 Cuban pesos this Friday and the dollar, about to touch the 300 barrier, remains at 298, well above double the official exchange rate for the general population (120×1) and more than twelve times that established for companies (24×1).
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