Cuban man gets 4+ years for migrant smuggling operation

MIAMI (AP) — A Cuban man has been sentenced to four years and nine months in U.S. federal prison for running a human smuggling operation from Cuba to Mexico to the United States.

Tomas Vale Valdivia, 45, was sentenced Tuesday in Miami federal court, according to court records. He pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to commit migrant smuggling for profit.

From 2013 to 2018, Vale Valdivia and at least five others were members of an immigrant smuggling conspiracy operating in Miami, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, authorities said. More than 100 migrants were smuggled from Cuba to Mexico and then ultimately to the border of the United States. The migrants were charged approximately $10,000 each.

Vale Valdivia admitted to knowing that he was breaking U.S. law and placing the immigrants at substantial risk, investigators said. The vessels used to smuggle migrants were regularly overloaded or used during dangerous weather. He also conspired to steal engines in the U.S. and ship them from Miami to Mexico to be used in the migrant smuggling operation, according to court documents.