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Five Floridians charged with extorting relatives of smuggled Cuban migrants

This news story was published on February 24, 2012.
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By Jay Weaver, McClatchy Newspapers –

MIAMI — Five Floridians are accused of conspiring to extort money from relatives of Cuban migrants allegedly being held for ransom in Mexico while they were illegally smuggled from Cuba to the United States, prosecutors said Thursday.

Relatives contacted authorities about the alleged scheme, which led them to two of the suspects, Yandrys Leon and Yadira Leon Placias, both of Jennings, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami.

The two are charged along with Oscar Morera and Jose Fernandez, both of Miami, and Manuel Bernal of Tampa.

The indictment charged all five defendants with conspiring to commit extortion using force, violence and fear. Also, four of the defendants are charged with making telephone calls to extort money.

The case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

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