Authorities today arrested 12 people and sought five others in Puerto Rico and Boston in the 1983 robbery of $7 million from a Wells Fargo armored car in Connecticut by Puerto Rican separatists linked to Cuba.
“We want to show the world that in the United States, we are not going to allow any terrorist activities,” FBI spokesman Diader Rosario said.
A pro-independence socialist monthly, Critical Thought, also was raided and an independence movement spokeswoman charged the FBI had unleashed a “wave of terror against the Puerto Rican independence movement.”
Police sources earlier said 14 people were seized in the raids, but Rosario said 11 were picked up in the sweep that began at 2 a.m.
Warrants Out for 5
Arrest warrants have been issued for five others, but one of those, Victor Gerena, has been given sanctuary in Cuba, FBI Director William H. Webster said in Los Angeles.
An indictment said one of the suspects, Filiberto Inocencio Ojeda-Rios, had been told by a representative of the Cuban government, known as Coma, that part of the stolen money “remained in the custody and care of the Cuban government.”
Gerena, on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list, allegedly stole $7 million from Wells Fargo after he overpowered two fellow security guards unloading money from a truck in September, 1983, in West Hartford, Conn.
The heist is the second largest in U.S. history, surpassed only by the $11 million in cash taken from Sentry Armored Car-Courier in New York on Dec. 12, 1982.
Los Macheteros, a terrorist group seeking Puerto Rico’s independence, claimed Gerena carried out the heist for the group.
The FBI arrested Anne L. Gassin, 26, at her Cambridge, Mass., apartment without incident and charged her with racketeering. FBI Agent James W. Greenleaf said she was not a member of the Macheteros but “has been associated with them for some time.”
Greenleaf said Gassin was involved in laundering some of the $7 million, and the FBI was investigating other potential Macheteros supporters in Boston and New England.