Florida man is hit with human trafficking and kidnapping charges

Florida man is hit with human trafficking and kidnapping charges after Cuban man was smuggled into the U.S. and then beaten until his family handed over $7,000 in ransom

  • José Miguel González reportedly kidnapped and tortured a Cuban man who was taken on a boat from the communist island to Mexico in 2018
  • The Cuban migrant told federal authorities in October that he paid $3,000 to smugglers linked to González  
  • The man joined 16 other Cubans who hoped to be brought to the United States via Mexico
  • González had the Cuban migrant beaten with a paddle and then provided photos of the beaten man to his family in a bid to get $7,000 in ransom
  • The man was eventually released although it is unknown if the ransom was paid
  • González is facing up to 20 years prison for kidnapping and 15 for human trafficking should he be found guilty of the charges.

An alleged member of a human trafficking ring is facing charges for kidnapping and human trafficking as part of an investigation surrounding the torture of a migrant smuggled out of Cuba to Mexico before he eventually entered the United States.

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José Miguel González appeared before a federal judge in the Southern District of Florida on Friday, just two months after the Cuban migrant, whose name is not mentioned in the court document, spilled the harrowing details to federal authorities of his near-death journey to the U.S. which began in 2018.

According to a affidavit obtained by the Sun-Sentinel, the Cuban man told the feds in October that he paid $3,000 to the smugglers connected to González to be taken on a raft with 16 other individuals from Cuba to Mexico. He was later smuggled across the border to the United States.

The prospects of reaching the American Dream became an instant nightmare for the migrants when they made it to Mexico and were met by machete-packing men.

In the court document, the Cuban man said that he and the migrants had their heads covered with hoods and were taken to a safe house.

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In an attempt to seek more money from the Cuban migrant, González tried to extort the man’s family in Cuba for $7,000 and then transferred him to another stash house in Mexico where he was beaten with a paddle. In an attempt to get his family to pay the money, photos of his bruises were provided to his loved ones in the communist island. 

He was later released by González, but it is unknown if his family supplied additional payments to secure his freedom.

The migrant also told federal authorities that some of the other migrants were raped by González and his co-conspirators as a method to extract additional money from the victims’ family members in Cuba.

González’s mother, according to the Cuban migrant, also played a role in the human trafficking organization’s dealings by collecting ransom payments that were wired to Miami. U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation agents confirmed payments were made via Western Union.

A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation confirmed to on Monday that González’s case is tied to the September arrests of Reynaldo Márquez, 41, and Jancer Ramos, 33, who were respectively apprehended in Texas and Connecticut, and are being tried in Florida.

Márquez and Ramos reportedly promised the migrants to take them directly from Cuba to the United States on a boat, but changed plans by transporting them to Mérida, Mexico. 

While the victims were held hostage in a safe house and ordered to provide instructed them ‘to provide contact information for a family member who could pay a $10,000 ransom.’ 

In the event the families paid, the migrants were then bused to the Mexico-United States border and instructed on how to seek asylum.  

According to the federal complaint, the Cuban nationals were assaulted ‘with knives and firearms, and shocked with stun guns’ if their families did not pay.

Sources close to the investigation told the Sun-Sentinel that González is reportedly connected to El Jabao Organization, a criminal syndicate that in October 2012 pulled off the largest gold heist in Florida history, stealing $2.8 million in Bolivian gold.

The criminal group, which operates in Cuba, Mexico and the United States, had two of its leaders jailed for sneaking in Cuban star baseball players Yasier Puig and Raisel Iglesias to the U.S. in exchange for cash. 

González face a maximum prison sentence of 20 years for kidnapping and 15 years for human smuggling if he is convicted. 

The federal court documents do not name his mother. It is unknown if she will be prosecuted for her role.


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