Monday, December 19, 2011

The Miami News, February 14, 1968, "Fingerprint Test Leads to Arrest" by Milt Sosin and Bob Wilcox.

A Cuban exile was arrested early today by a Miami police intelligence squad and charged with one of a series of bombings attributed to the "Cuban Power" terrorist organization.

Police identified him as Ricardo Morales Navarette [or Navarrete], 29, and said he was arrested at a house at 921 SW 5th St. in Miami's "Little Havana" section where he lived with his wife and three children.

Sgt. Everett Kay of the Miami criminal intelligence division said Morales is a member of the Cuban Power organization and that two hand-written Cuban Power handbills and a pencil-type military detonator were found in his house.

Morales told newsmen at police headquarters that he knew nothing of any bombings. "The only thing I know about Cuban Power is what I have read in newspapers," he added.

Morales was asleep when Lt. Havard Swilley, head of the Miami intelligence unit and Sgts. Kay, Eugene McCracken and John Weaver knocked on the door at 6:15 a.m. They had staked out his house last night for several hours but Morales had not returned while they were there, and the officers returned this morning.

Morales was specifically charged with "placing [a] bomb in a place of business at 3526 W. Flagler St. This was one of three Miami establishments bombed on the early morning of Jan. 25.

A plastic explosive known as "C-4" was used in all three bombings. Police sources said that in the Flagler Street bombing, in which a policeman was injured, a second charge was found in an envelope at the scene.

The envelope was subjected to a process developed by Robert Worsham of the Metro Crime Laboratory which utilizes traces of body chemicals left on surfaces to bring out fingerprints.

Workable prints came out and experts of the Miami police fingerprint division headed by Joe Musial went through records of exiles who are fingerprinted as part of their immigration processing - to find matching prints. Police said Morales' prints matched those on the envelope.

Three days before the bombings of the three business places, a Mexican airplane was damaged by a blast at Miami International Airport.

Bombing of the plane brought the FBI into the investigation, and the Metro intelligence unit also participated and cooperated with Miami police.

Following the bombing of the plane, a "communique" was issued by an organization styling itself Cuban Power. It claimed responsibility for the plane bombing and warned that similar measures would be taken against all persons and businesses engaged in sending packages of medicine, food and clothing to Castro Cuba.

At police headquarters today, the stocky, black-haired Morales said, "I am not connected with any bombing. If my mother was in Cuba I would send her things. This is a humanitarian thing. I couldn't be against that."

Morales left Cuba in 1959, he sid, because he was against communism. He came to the United States, but in 1964, he said, he fought in the anti-Communist Fifth Congolese Brigade in Africa. He said he held the rank of captain and was in a paratrop unit whose job was to rescue captives from rebel forces.

Police said Morales has been under surveillance for two weeks. Other suspects are being watched and further arrests are expected. Morales said he has worked as a salesman but presently is unemployed and had planned to look for a job today. He was held in county jail pending the setting of bond.

In the Jan. 25 bombings, two of the targets were the Flagler Street office and store of Servicios Especializados, operated by Jose Valdez, and All Cargo Transport, 1707 Coral Way. Both specialized in shipments of food and medicines to Cuba.

At the Flagler Street address, Miami Police Sgt. Russell Leasburg was injured by the explosion of a detonator set in the envelope of C-4 which did not go off.

On the early morning of the same day - Jan. 25 - a paint and body shop at 333 SW 17th Ave., was blasted. The owner, Jesse Tobar, said he had no connections with Cubans.

There was a pause in the bombings, then, on Feb. 1, a bomb believed to have been fashioned from an artillery simulator awakened the family of Rafael Reyes Spindola, Mexican consul-general in Miami, at their home, 912 SW 74th Ave. Reyes Spindola went outside to find that his auto had been damaged.

Last Friday came the latest bombing. Explosives were set off at the base of the garage at the home of the British Consul in Miami, Francis J. Pelly, 4400 Anderson Rd., Coral Gables, while Pelly, his wife and 15-year-old daughter were sleeping in the house.

One auto was wrecked and a second badly damaged.

Copyright (c) 1968 The Miami News

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