A joint investigation by ICE-HSI, FBI, and FDLE led law enforcement to Leon and Leon Placias after relatives of Cuban migrants notified law enforcement that the migrants were being held in Mexico for ransom after departing Cuba en route to the United States. The indictment charges all five defendants with conspiring to commit extortion through the wrongful use of actual and threatened force, violence and fear. In addition, Leon, Bernal, Morera Torres, and Fernandez are each charged with making telephone calls with the intent to extort money.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the ICE-HSI, FBI, and FDLE. Mr. Ferrer also thanked U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), Area 5 for their assistance in this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John D. Couriel and Elisa Castrolugo.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.