Six Years in Prison for Violating the Embargo

The Ubiquiti NanoStation M2 amplifies the signal of a wifi network and is used in Cuba to bring internet to homes. (bionic)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, October 2, 2018 — Bryan Evan Singer, 46, was sentenced last Thursday in the United States to 78 months of prison for violating the Cuban embargo by trying to take hundreds of electronic devices to the Island from the south of Florida. Additionally, the convicted man was accused of making false declarations to federal authorities and lying about the quantity of merchandise.

Singer attempted to travel to the Island on May 2, 2017 aboard La Mala, according to the statement from the Southern Florida District court. Law enforcement officials, in an inspection before the vessel set sail from Stock Island, found a hidden compartment underneath a screwed-down bed in the boat’s cabin.

In the compartment they found hundreds of electronic devices, among them more than 300 Ubiquiti NanoStation M2, valued at more than $30,000.

The Ubiquiti Nanostation Networks are devices that amplify wifi signals up to several kilometers, which are often used to give internet coverage in big concerts and rural areas. Each one of the devices can receive or send wifi signals at a distance of six miles into the surrounding area.

“These devices require a license to be exported to Cuban because their capacities threaten national security. Singer never applied for nor obtained a license to export these devices to Cuba,” pointed out the office of the Southern District.

Since the Cuban Government installed the first wifi zones in the Island’s parks in 2013, dozens of clandestine networks have appeared. Cubans use the NanoStation to bring wireless signals from the wifi zones to other areas without coverage, in order to surf the internet from home, because of which the Cuban Government prohibits their import as well as that of other devices with a similar function. Until now the country has around 700 points of wireless connection and the state-owned monopoly, Etecsa, charges the equivalent of a dollar for an hour of connection, close to a day’s wages for the average Cuban worker.

Singer told the Miami Herald that it wasn’t the first time that he had taken merchandise to Cuba and that he had a person on the island “to leave it with,” although he maintains that he never did business with shipments and that he was doing it to “support the Cuban people.”

“On September 27, 2018, the lead judge of the District Court of the United States, K. Michael Moore, sentenced Singer to 78 months of prison, to be followed by supervised release,” stated the Court.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey


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