Friday, June 15, 2012

The way we were...The Watergate break-in and the Miami connection

40 years ago this week...

"June 17, 1972 - Five men, one of whom says he used to work for the CIA, are arrested at 2:30 a.m. trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate hotel and office complex."

They say all big stories have a "Miami connection." The Watergate story was no different.
5 Held in Plot to Bug Democrats' Office Here

By Alfred E. Lewis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 18, 1972

Five men, one of whom said he is a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, were arrested at 2:30 a.m. yesterday in what authorities described as an elaborate plot to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee here.

Three of the men were native-born Cubans and another was said to have trained Cuban exiles for guerrilla activity after the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.
[...]


Left to right: James McCord, Jr., Virgilio Gonzalez, Frank Sturgis, Eugenio Martinez, and Bernard Baker.

The five men were identified as:

* Edward Martin, alias James W. McCord, of New York City and perhaps the Washington metropolitan area. Martin said in court yesterday that he retired from the CIA two years ago. He said he presently is employed as a "security consultant."

* Frank Sturgis of 2515 NW 122d St., Miami. Prosecutors said that an FBI check on Sturgis showed that he had served in the Cuban Military army intelligence in 1958, recently traveled to Honduras in Central America, and presently is the agent for a Havana salvage agency. He has a home and family in Miami. Sturgis also was once charged with a gun violation in Miami, according to FBI records.

* Eugenio R. Martinez of 4044 North Meridian Ave., Miami. Prosecutors said that Martinez violated the immigration laws in 1958 by flying in a private plane to Cuba. He is a licensed real estate agent and a notary public in Florida.

* Virgilio R. Gonzales [Editor's Note: Spelling was corrected in subsequent stories to Gonzalez] of 930 NW 23d Ave., Miami. In Miami yesterday, his wife told a Washington Post reporter that her husband works as a locksmith at the Missing Link Key Shop. Harry Collot, the shop owner, said that Gonzales was scheduled to work yesterday but didn't show up. "He's done it before, but it's not a regular thing," Collot said. He said he thought Gonzales came to America about the time Fidel Castro became well-known, and began working for Missing Links sometime in 1959. He described Gonzales as "pro-American and anti-Castro...he doesn't rant or rave like some of them do."

* Bernard L. Barker of 5229 NW 4th St., Miami. Douglas Caddy, one of the attorneys for the five men, told a reporter that shortly after 3 a.m. yesterday, he received a call from Barker's wife. "She said that her husband told her to call me if he hadn't called her by 3 a.m.: that it might mean he was in trouble."

All were charged with felonious burglary and with possession of implements of crime. All but Martin were ordered held in $50,000 bail. Martin, who has ties in the area was held in $30,000 bail.

In court yesterday, prosecutors said Sturgis also used the alias Frank Fiorini -- an assertion confirmed by Miami area police.

In 1959, the Federal Aviation Agency identified Fiorini as the pilot of a plane that dropped anti-Castro leaflets over Havana. Described in newspaper clippings as a "soldier of fortune," Fiorini reportedly was head of the International anticommunist Brigade, after the Bay of Pigs invasion, that trained 23 Cuban exiles who in 1962 landed by boat in Cuba's Matanzas Province and set up guerrilla operations.



Miami News, June 19, 1972. (Click to enlarge.)

Miami News cartoon by Don Wright, June 20, 1972.






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