One fugitive remains at large, but it looks as if one chapter of the Great Sony Playstation Caper has come to a close. Sentenced to one-year probation and six months home confinement, Miami-Dade businessman Khaled T. Safadi told the judge that he was “not a terrorist”.
According to the Miami Herald, “Safadi’s Doral company, Cedar Distributors, which also pleaded guilty, was placed on probation for three years. Cedar Distributors was charged along with two freight forwarders, Ulises Talavera, 46, owner of Transamerica Express of Miami, and Emilio Gonzalez-Neira, 43, owner of Jumbo Cargo.”
On many levels, this case is odd. These folks should be punished for what they did; and they should have received a harsher sentencer. Keeping Playstations and similar devices on the export control list needs updating. You can purchase Playstation devices just about anywhere in the world.
The control should be earlier in the process, maybe before it leaves the assembly line, for example (and this opens up a whole set of other issues). But do they really need controlling or should knowing where they are headed be enough?
Some of these gadgets are making their way to places such as state sponsor of terror Cuba. Families hand carry them to relatives on the island; just take a walk in Miami International Airport during Cuba charter flight days and you’ll see them through the bubble wrapped luggage.
The more interesting part of this case are the folks that Safadi and his team were selling to. Who were they and what were they up to. We may never know. They were shipping to a suspect region in South America, a smuggling and terrorist money laundering haven, among other things.
Forging export documents for high-tech items destined to the Tri-Border area should raise flags for a whole host of reasons. Even if Safadi and his crew are not terrorists, the people they were dealing with may have been. This is enough to warrant the lenient sentence; it should have been tougher.
The State Department continues to rank the region as a low risk for terrorism; but cases such as these should give us pause and force a reconsideration how we deal with this part of the world.