The Cuban Criminal Pipeline


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In 2014 and 2015, I assisted a Pulitzer Prize-winning team that produced an investigative project called “Plundering America: The Cuban Criminal Pipeline.” The South Florida Sun Sentinel published the three-part series in January 2015 after a year-long investigation. It found that the U.S. government’s preferential treatment of Cuban immigrants “fueled a criminal pipeline from Cuba to Florida, enabling crooks from the island to rob American businesses and taxpayers of more than $2 billion over two decades.
The project involved tracking down fugitives in Cuba. Among those I located: Angel Ricardo Mendoza, wanted on charges he stole $180,000 in nickels from the Federal Reserve, and Livan Moya Tagle Moya, who told the judge in his credit card fraud case: “I went to the U.S. to steal, to damage the U.S. Government. Come to Cuba to look for me. Do it if you can.”

Angel Mendoza
Angel Ricardo Mendoza

Reaction to the series was positive.
“Congratulations on a sensational expose! This has to stop and we should all press our officials to put a stop to these criminals!” one reader wrote. Another wrote: “Superb, eye-opening article.”
The series drew mentions from the New York Times, the Columbia Journalism Review, Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Extra Extra! blog and other publications. U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch cited the Sun Sentinel investigation during Feb. 4 hearing by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “I hope we are not ignoring the years of criminal activity that the Castros have turned a blind eye to,” the lawmaker said.

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