Cubana Arrested at Tampa Airport with $102,000 Denies Ties to Alejandro Gil

Tuesday, June 11, 2024 by Madison Pena

Cubana Arrested at Tampa Airport with $102,000 Denies Ties to Alejandro Gil
Alejandro Gil Fernández and Mirtza Ocaña - Image © Cubadebate and TikTok / Mirtza Ocaña

The Cuban-American Mirtza Ocaña, accused of possessing over $102,000 while traveling from Havana to Tampa, has denied any connection with the ousted former Minister of Economy and Planning, Alejandro Gil Fernández.

"There is nothing, absolutely nothing about that. This case has nothing to do with any Cuban government official, neither Mr. Gil nor anyone else," said Ocaña's lawyer, Juan C. Mercado, to journalist Wilfredo Cancio Isla, who reported the story on his blog, Café Fuerte.

The Federal Prosecutor's Office in Tampa, located in Hillsborough County, Florida, has formally charged the 38-year-old Ocaña with two counts after she was caught last February bringing more than $102,000 into the U.S. from Cuba through Tampa International Airport without declaring it to American authorities.

This incident raised alarms, particularly among independent Cuban media, who questioned the arrival of such a large sum of money at a time when Minister Alejandro Gil was being removed from his position and accused of alleged corruption by the Cuban regime.

However, the defense attorney labeled these allegations as "absurd," stating, "There is no basis to claim that. The scandal is just more enticing," he told Cancio Isla.

Upcoming Court Hearing

This Tuesday, Ocaña has a scheduled hearing to review her case. Her lawyer remains optimistic about the outcome. "We are currently reviewing all the evidence in detail to decide if we can find an agreement and resolve the case in her best interest," the lawyer indicated.

Ocaña faces charges including cash smuggling and conspiracy with an unidentified person to transport, transfer, and illegally introduce money into the United States. U.S. law mandates that anyone entering the country with more than $10,000 in cash must declare it.

After her arrest, Ocaña admitted to smuggling money into the U.S. from Cuba since June 2023, making 2 to 3 trips per month to the island. In exchange for her services, she claimed to have received payments ranging from $1,000 to $2,500.

Upon reviewing her travels, it was discovered that Ocaña had visited Cuba 45 times since May 2023. Despite acknowledging her awareness of the illegality of bringing in undeclared money, roughly $100,000 in total was confiscated from her.

According to Café Fuerte, it appears that Ocaña emigrated from Cuba at an unknown date and initially settled in an apartment in Hialeah. She later moved to Tampa, where she lived in a modest mobile home park and owned an inexpensive car.

Legal Implications and Case Details

In light of the arrest and ensuing legal proceedings, several questions arise regarding the specifics of the case and its broader implications.

What are the charges against Mirtza Ocaña?

Mirtza Ocaña faces charges of cash smuggling and conspiracy to transport, transfer, and introduce money illegally into the United States.

Why did independent Cuban media raise concerns about the incident?

Independent Cuban media raised concerns due to the large sum of money involved and the timing, coinciding with the removal of Alejandro Gil Fernández from his position amid corruption allegations.

What did Ocaña admit to regarding her trips and money smuggling?

Ocaña admitted to smuggling money into the U.S. from Cuba since June 2023, making 2 to 3 trips per month, and receiving payments between $1,000 and $2,500 for her services.

© CubaHeadlines 2024

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