MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Cuban man was sentenced to four years and eight months in federal prison after he was found guilty in Miami federal court of participating in an alien smuggling operation.
Federal authorities say Tomas Vale Valdivia, 45, led an alien smuggling operation that transported more than 100 Cuban migrants to Mexico and then into the United States. They said each migrant was charged approximately $10,000.
Officials say Vale Valdivia’s operation began at around October 2013 and continued through at least July 2018.
Authorities say Vale Valdivia and about five associates operated in Miami, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti.
Vale Valdivia admitted to authorities that his operation sometimes put the migrants’ lives in ‘substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.’
Officials say vessels used to smuggle migrants were overloaded or were used during foul weather so as to risk capsizing.
Vale Valdivia was also accused of smuggling baseball players from Cuba to the United States.
Additionally, authorities say Vale Valdivia admitted to stealing boat engines that would subsequently be used in the alien-smuggling operation.
If you believe you are a victim of migrant coercion or extortion or know someone who is, you are encouraged to call 1-866-347-2423.