Federal investigators have linked rockets used in attacks on U.S. courthouses in Puerto Rico to a supply of U.S.-made anti-tank weapons captured during the Vietnam War by the North Vietnamese and then shipped to Cuba, law enforcement sources said Tuesday.
In addition, these sources said, a Puerto Rican suspect who allegedly fired on FBI agents during a sweep Friday has links to Cuba’s intelligence service.
Investigators say they believe these developments buttress evidence of Cuban involvement in Puerto Rican terrorist activities. At least 12 alleged members of the terrorist group Macheteros, or Machete Wielders, were arrested in the sweep on armed robbery charges, and five other persons--all but one alleged to be Macheteros--have been indicted.
In announcing the FBI action last Friday, FBI Director William H. Webster noted that the prime suspect in the robbery, a $7-million Wells Fargo heist in Connecticut in 1983, has been given sanctuary in Cuba.
He also referred briefly to the rocket attacks on the U.S. facilities on Puerto Rico, saying that the investigation that led to the arrests likewise was directed at the Oct. 3, 1983, attack on the U.S. courthouse and federal building in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, and a similar attack last Jan. 25 on the U.S. courthouse in Old San Juan. The Macheteros have claimed responsibility for the 1983 assault.
Weapons Used in Vietnam
Investigative sources said Tuesday that the rockets used in the two attacks were light anti-tank weapons that U.S. forces used during the Vietnam War. They are fired from a collapsible fiberglass tube that is then discarded, and, according to sources, such tubes were found near the sites of both attacks.
The weapons were among equipment known to have been transferred by North Vietnam to Cuba after the United States pulled out of the Vietnam War, a U.S. intelligence source said Tuesday. The rockets used in the two Puerto Rican attacks “are not only the same type but are of the same series (of manaufacture),” one source said.
Additional charges against Macheteros members for the rocket attacks are expected, according to one law enforcement official.
While saying that the suspect who allegedly fired on FBI agents Friday, Filiberto Inocencio Ojeda-Rios, has “links” to the Cuban intelligence service DGI, the sources said they did not know if he actually is a DGI agent.
According to the indictment by a federal grand jury in Hartford, Conn., Ojeda-Rios “was advised by a representative of the Cuban government who he knew as ‘Coma’ that a portion of the stolen Wells Fargo money remained in the custody and care of the Cuban government.”
Wounded FBI Agent
The law enforcement sources said that Ojeda-Rios is believed to have wounded the only FBI agent injured in the attack by firing an automatic weapon in one hand and a pistol in the other. The automatic weapon was shot out of his hand, and he was apprehended.
The FBI declined to identify the wounded agent, who was called over the weekend by Webster and Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III. One source familiar with the agent’s condition said it is feared he may lose the sight of one eye.
In a related development, law enforcement sources questioned whether the prime suspect in the robbery, Victor Manuel Gerena, a former Wells Fargo security guard, took part in the crime out of political beliefs.
“There’s no indication he is a fervent radical,” one source said Tuesday.