Recently, social networks reported that Cuban citizens were lured to go to Russia for military purposes. Quite a few have become victims of these scams linked to the crime of human trafficking, with the aim of recruiting these Cubans into Russian military groups participating in the conflict with Ukraine.
According to the victims’ reports, once in Russia victims are allegedly required to sign documents, with promises of wages and food in exchange for work in construction, which has turned out to be work in war zones belonging to the conflict with Ukraine.
As word of these events spread and related allegations increased, Cuban authorities began to develop the relevant investigations, both inside Cuba and in cooperation with their Russian counterparts.
The Cuban authorities’ position
The government in Havana stated in a press release that Cuba ” is acting and it will firmly act against those who within the national territory participate in any form of human trafficking for mercenarism or recruitment purposes so that Cuban citizens may raise weapons against any country”.
Cuban regulations establish strict penalties for crimes such as trafficking, smuggling and mercenarism.
First detainees in Cuba
So far, 17 people have been arrested in Cuba for participating in this network, which promised employment and a substantial salary in Russia to the recruits after they had fulfilled their tasks. In some cases, they did not even know that the work that awaited them was nothing more than mercenary work, as they were tricked by being offered jobs in sectors such as construction. Operations were directed from abroad.
According to information provided by specialists of the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation of the Ministry of Interior, three of the detainees were members of the recruitment scheme. For the rest of the detainees, they claim to have joined the network voluntarily in exchange for residence in Russia and significant financial remuneration.
According to information provided by the Ministry of the Interior to the digital media outlet Cuba Debate, the confessions of those involved and the intercepted communications between the members of the group provide sufficient evidence to bring the accused to trial.
While it is not yet clear whether this number of detainees constitutes the total number of people involved in the trafficking network within the national territory, the authorities are continuing their investigations and are warning people not to fall into this type of trap.
According to the police investigation, in the case of those recruited from Cuba, they were especially looking for people with a criminal record or from dysfunctional families. However, potential victims were also those who had a difficult situation in Cuba from which they desperately wanted to escape.
The group was not just bringing Cubans to Russia to be incorporated into military zones, but also sought mercenaries among Cubans already living in Russia, where the Cuban community has grown significantly in recent years, given that Moscow does not require visas for citizens of the Caribbean island.
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