Hialeah Armed Hostage-Taking Ring Busted for Ransoming Cuban Migrants and Human Smuggling Offenses
MIAMI – On September 15, 2022, Didier Perez Perez, Lester Leyniel Soca Diaz, and Yoandy Alonso were indicted by a Miami Southern District of Florida Grand Jury for transporting Cuban nationals into the U.S. via Monroe County, Fla., to a migrant stash house in Hialeah, Fla., where they were held for a requested ransom of $15,000.
Migrants were threatened—to include being told they would be left in the middle of the ocean if their smuggling debts were not paid. Law enforcement rescued the captured migrants and busted the alien transport ring by accompanying a victim’s friend to the hostage exchange point.
The three men were charged with: Conspiracy to Transport and Harbor Aliens for Profit; Transporting Aliens for Profit; Conspiracy to Commit Hostage Taking; and Hostage Taking. All three defendants have been detained pending trial.
This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) investigation. The principal mission of the OCDETF is to identify and dismantle the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and other priority transnational criminal organizations that threaten U.S. citizens. The task force uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multiagency approach to combat transnational organized crime. The OCDETF handles complex operations by focusing its partner agencies on priority targets.
These arrests are the result of ongoing efforts of the Operation Sisyphus Task Force, a multiagency partnership established by the OCDEFT’s Priority Transnational Organized Crime Program. The Operation Sisyphus Task Force was formed to combat Caribbean-based organized crime and includes the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, FBI Miami, and HSI Miami. In recent years, the Operation Sisyphus Task Force has targeted organizations utilizing coercion and extortion to compel migrants and their families to make payments for the release of loved ones.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Robert M. DeWitt, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, Anthony Salisbury, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office, and George Fuente, Chief of Police, Hialeah Police Department, made the announcement.
This case was investigated by FBI Miami, HSI Miami, and the Hialeah Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Elena Smukler. Assistant United States Attorney Annika Miranda is handling the case’s asset forfeiture.
An indictment contains mere allegations and defendants are innocent unless and until found guilty in a court of law.
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). The toll-free phone number is available 24 hours a day all year. Help is available in English, Spanish, and other languages.
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 case number 22-mj-03513.