Former major of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office convicted of abusive sexual contact with a minor
MIAMI –Following a one-month trial, a federal jury convicted a Miami Beach man for his role in a violent transnational organized crime group operating in Cuba, Mexico, Spain, and South Florida since as early as 2009.
Javier Hernandez, 50, of Miami Beach, Florida, was convicted on Oct. 18, following a jury trial of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling, conspiracy to transport stolen vessels, conspiracy to traffic in certain motor vehicles, trafficking in certain motor vehicles, and conspiracy to launder money to promote stolen property trafficking, and the bribery of public officials.
According to evidence introduced at trial, Hernandez and his codefendant, Ramon Reyes Aranda, 38, of Naples, Florida, stole vessels from the west coast of Florida. Reyes Aranda would identify the vessels, and Hernandez transported them to Mexico, where they would be used to fund and facilitate the enterprise’s illegal activities. Prior to the trial, Reyes Aranda pleaded guilty to participating in a money laundering conspiracy to promote stolen property trafficking and the bribery of public officials.
The stolen property, which included boats and vessels, were transported to a coconspirator in Mexico, who would then use the stolen property to facilitate and promote the organization’s activities. For example, evidence introduced at trial showed that Hernandez transported a vehicle to Mexico for use in bribing a foreign official so that the organization could continue conducting migrant smuggling without interference from law enforcement.
An extensive multi-national operation, led by American and Mexican law enforcement authorities, was formed to combat the activities of a violent transnational organized crime group known collectively in Mexico as La Mafia Cubana en Quintana Roo, or the Cuban Mafia in Quintana Roo. Through this operation, law enforcement officials learned that Jose Miguel Gonzalez Vidal, 36; Reynaldo Abreu Garcia, 56; Yohismy Perez Gonzalez, 40; Yosvani Carbonel Lemus, 43; Reynaldo Crespo Marquez, 44, and Jancer Sergio Ramos Valdes, 37, all Cuban citizens residing in Mexico at the time of the charges, along with Maikel Antonio Hechavarria Reyes and Monica Susana Castillo, both of Mexico, were part of an organized crime group that profited from various schemes, including the smuggling and extortion of Cuban migrants held hostage in Mexico for the payment of smuggling fees (United States v. Vidal, et al., Case No. 21-cr-20050-CMA).
According to evidence contained in the court record, Gonzalez Vidal introduced Hernandez to Reyes Aranda so that they could work together to transport stolen vessels for the organization. Both Hernandez and Reyes Aranda were paid by Gonzalez Vidal and other members of the organization for their transportation of the stolen property.
The members of the migrant extortion racket required the victims to provide contact information of a family member from whom they would later demand a $10,000 USD ransom fee. The men contacted the victims’ relatives, some of whom were in Miami, and threatened to torture, starve, and kill the victims if the relatives refused to pay. If a victim’s relative was able to pay the ransom, the organization released the victim and sent them by bus to the United States-Mexico border with instructions to seek political asylum. The victims whose relatives were unable to pay the fee were beaten, threatened with knives and guns, and shocked with stun guns until they were finally rescued by Mexican authorities. Members of the organization also sought to profit from drug trafficking and fraud schemes.
Further, once the defendants were charged in the United States and detained pending trial, they continued operating the organization by seeking to obstruct justice, violating court orders, and distributing contraband in a federal detention center. As part of their prison racket, the organization paid bribes to a federal employee to introduce contraband and controlled substance for distribution into the Federal Detention Center (FDC), in Miami.
For their participation in the criminal scheme, Gonzalez Vidal, Crespo Marquez, Abreu Garcia, Perez Gonzalez, Carbonel Lemus, and Ramos Valdes previously pleaded guilty to Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracy and migrant smuggling. Their sentencing hearings have been scheduled for November and December in Miami.
Reyes Aranda’s sentencing hearing is set for Dec. 15, at 10:00 a.m. in Miami. Hernandez’s sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 5, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. in Miami.
U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of the FBI, Miami Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Anthony Salisbury of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami; Acting Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. Margelot, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), Southeast Region; Warden Gio Ramirez of the Federal Detention Center (FDC), Bureau of Prisons (BOP);; Interim Director Stephanie V. Daniels of the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD); Chief of Police Tracy Frazzano for the Marco Island Police Department, and Interim Police Chief Matt Fletcher of the Naples Police Department, made the announcement.
The prosecution of this organization has involved significant support from the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, FBI’s International Violent Crimes Unit, and the Justice Department’s Violent Crime and Racketeering Section.
These multinational prosecutions are the result of ongoing efforts of the Operation Sisyphus Task Force, a multi-agency partnership established by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Priority Transnational Organized Crime Program. Since 2012, Operation Sisyphus Task Force participants have secured the conviction of over thirty members and associates of the criminal organization.
The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and other priority transnational criminal organizations that threaten the citizens of the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence driven, multi-agency approach to combat transnational organized crime. The OCDETF program facilitates complex, joint operations by focusing its partner agencies on priority targets, by managing and coordinating multi-agency efforts, and by leveraging intelligence across multiple investigative platforms.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Arielle Klepach and Brian Dobbins prosecuted U.S. v. Hernandez, et al., Case No. 22-cr-20557.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Manolo Reboso, Quinshawna Landon and Ignacio J. Vázquez, Jr. prosecuted U.S. v. Vidal, et al., Case No. 21-cr-20050. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Davis conducted collateral litigation regarding obstruction of justice activities in the Vidal, et al. prosecution.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Annika Miranda handled asset forfeiture.
If you believe you are a victim of migrant coercion or extortion, or know someone who is, you are encouraged to call 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324).
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under the case numbers referenced above.
Public Affairs Unit
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida