The Robberies of Cuba’s Exchange Black Markets are Growing

The Ministry of the Interior didn’t offer more details about its operations against the buying and selling, but warned that it had already arrested several criminals. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 12 November 2022 — Determined to uncover the anthill of illegal trade, the Cuban government doesn’t publish reports in official newspapers to air cases of corruption, surcharges, thefts, illicit distribution, electronic scams and, lately, robberies in foreign exchange operations on the black market. The timid daily reports of the Ministry of the Interior don’t allow measuring the extent of the problem, but they say a lot about the seriousness of the situation.

A report published on Tuesday in the newspaper Tribuna de La Habana announced the results of a police operation in the municipality of Cotorro. The agents arrested a group of Cubans who stored “high quantities of food, hygiene and personal use products” in two Girón buses, with Matanzas registration, belonging to the state cooperatives Flor de Cuba and José M. Duarte.

The network, which operated at the interprovincial level, had accumulated an inventory that the newspaper had the pleasure of detailing: almost 1760 pounds of chicken, 446 packs of sausages, 77 gallons of oil, 660 cans of beer and 83 of Red Bull, 150 tubes of picadillos, in addition to small shipments of chocolate, wheat, concentrated broth, butter and soaps.

The Ministry of the Interior assured that the products will be distributed in Social Security centers and in the State’s commercial network, which will receive the dividends resulting from their sale.

Another operation fell on a “warehouse” in San Miguel del Padrón, which the police located after an accusation and from which they extracted 128 boxes containing 508 gallons of oil. The newspaper attributed the success of the operation to the “municipal groups of confrontation with illegalities” in the popular council of Luyanó Moderno.

The hunt for “corruption” always ends up locating State establishments as the main suppliers of resale networks. In the well-known Ultra store, in Central Havana, 190 tubes of ground meat were seized that cost the director, the floor manager and the warehouse manager a penalty.

On the other hand, in the La Palma agricultural market, in Arroyo Naranjo, a shortage of 371,300 pesos was discovered in sales, after the manipulation of product prices, for which the inspectors decided to fine those responsible.

Another case of price misrepresentation occurred in the Artex store in the municipality of Boyeros, about which a brief note was reported in Tribuna de La Habana, accompanied by abundant photographs of the operation. The culprits, the Ministry of the Interior notes, were both the sellers and the administrators.

This Wednesday, the Police described a new form of scam in the state newspaper Granma. The police, they said, face above all “cases of robbery with the use of violence,” but in recent times “pitiful facts” have occurred through digital communications.

“The use of social networks to propose the illicit sale or purchase of foreign currency is confirmed, mostly at a lower price than that set for commercialization,” they pointed out in their description of the hook used by criminals to attract their potential victims.

“Their purpose is to steal large sums of money, and for this they agree with their victims in order to realize the exchange, usually in high buildings, secluded places or homes with several entrances and exits, an event that ends in a robbery through ruse or deception, intimidation of people, physical force, and the use of knives or other objects,” the agents conjectured.

False names, several foreign telephone lines and numbers are, in the opinion of the police, the tools of the scammers, to whom they attribute “good physical appearance and empathetic characteristics.”

The Ministry of the Interior didn’t offer more details about its operations against the digital sales, but warned that it had already arrested several criminals, to whom “due process has been applied.” According to the note, the police don’t receive too many complaints from the victims, who fear also being implicated in the crime. Therefore, the officers encourage the victims to “go to the stations” to file a complaint.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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