The Miami Herald reports today that a Miami couple that took more than forty flights to Cuba or Mexico since 2007 has been arrested by federal authorities in a $15 Medicare fraud case. What do Cuba junkets have to do with Medicare fraud? In this case, maybe nothing; however, federal authorities should not rule it out. Before reading on, please note that there is no reported connection that these individuals were sending money to Cuba or working in conjunction with Cuban regime officials. But the case does remind me a bigger issue just waiting and needing to be fully exposed.
Born and raised Miami, I saw the city evolve in to an international metropolis. It is a great city with still a lot of much untapped potential that has attracted mostly honest and hardworking folks. Then there are the rotten apples. No city would be complete without them. These are the characters that game the system and the break laws. Among this batch, I include the Castro regime and those who support them.
For decades folks who follow U.S.-Cuba policy have suspected, rightly so, that the Castro regime has set up a series of business networks in the United States. Castro Inc. is very real and very profitable. From remittances to clothing stores, sending money and products to Cuba is big business. Some of it is legal, most of it is not. In addition to the legal businesses, there are scores of smaller entities throughout the city that sell just about everything you’d buy at a Target or Wal-Mart.
If you spend any appreciable amount of time in Miami, you can easily spot these businesses. By Miami standards, the Spanish spoken by the employees is just different. It sounds like island Spanish. Something about the merchandise does not seem right. And they avoid politics. What Cuban avoids politics? In Miami, politics avoiders are usually the folks who are not in favor of economic sanctions and desire more engagement with the current Cuban government.
Likely breaking who knows how many U.S. laws, these businesses send millions of dollars a year to Cuba and regime officials. One business sector especially vulnerable to abuse is the healthcare industry. The tough part has been finding evidence to link folks in the states to entities in Cuba. Last year federal authorities caught their first break with the arrest of man accused of laundering more than $30 million in a healthcare fraud scheme through Cuban banks.
We spend a lot of time trying to enforce U.S.-Cuba sanctions. As the U.S. should, but we also need to start targeting Castro Inc. right here in the United States. Maybe its time for a large-scale RICO investigation. They found one entity last year linked to the regime. There must be more.