Love and Cuba

Jorge Mas Canosa says a Miami woman tried to smear his reputation and extort millions from him. She says he is the father of her child. Both have sworn they are telling the truth.

In a deposition taken on July 5, 1995, Mas denied having had an intimate relationship with Beatrice. However, he admitted that she is familiar to him. (In 1989 and 1990, Beatrice volunteered at the Cuban American National Foundation.) Mas estimated that he had known Beatrice for about five years, but he did not remember how they met.

From Jorge Mas Canosa's deposition:
Woodrow "Mac" Melvin, Jr., attorney for Beatrice: Have you ever had any social or business relations with this woman? [He indicates Beatrice, who is attending the deposition.]

Mas: No, sir.
Melvin: You have never been alone with her?
Mas: No, sir.
Melvin: You never had a romantic relationship with her?
Mas: No, sir.
Melvin: You never had sex with her?
Mas: No, sir.

Beatrice asserted under oath that she continued to see Mas off and on until 1978, when David Puig asked her to marry him. A Cuban immigrant who is three years older than Mas, Puig owned a used-car lot in Little Havana. He was handsome and debonair, with white hair combed back in distinguished, silvery waves. He had the prosperous air of someone who had worked hard and succeeded. Nevertheless, Beatrice said Mas warned her not to be deceived by Puig's attractive appearance.

"He told me, 'Don't do it, he's not the man for you.' He knew him," she recalled in her deposition. But Mas refused to make a counteroffer, she said. He was not going to divorce his wife, and Beatrice could expect nothing from him. "We stopped then," she testified, "and although we kept telephone contact and he called me, I didn't have a sexual relationship with him [again] until 1985." (Attorney Maurice Kutner says Mas did not know David Puig.)

In May 1994, Puig was arrested for cocaine trafficking and for planning a home invasion that targeted another cocaine dealer. During the trial, which occurred six months later, federal prosecutors described the Little Havana car lot as a cocaine entrepďt, the site of numerous deals involving both David and his son Marcos. (David divorced Marcos's mother before he married Beatrice.)

"Our evidence indicated that David Puig had regularly trafficked in cocaine for about a decade," asserts Assistant U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis, who successfully prosecuted David and Marcos. "He dealt in multikilogram quantities and obtained his cocaine directly from high-level Colombian importers."

Witnesses at the Puigs' portrayed a father-son trafficking team with an array of connections in Miami's white-powder underworld. Acting as middlemen, the Puigs would obtain the cocaine and pass it on, earning a commission of about $1000 on each kilo they handled.

Puig was found guilty by a jury after trial witnesses testified about a 1989 deal that turned sour. David Puig's son Marcos, who was then 28 years old, had received an order for 100 kilos of cocaine from Oscar Bayona, Jr., a close friend of Marcos's since their teenage years. The drugs were for one of Bayona's most reliable customers, a dealer who regularly drove down from Memphis. This time the customer brought along $650,000, enough to pay for the first 30 to 40 kilos. Bayona showed the money to Marcos, who promised to drop off the drugs at Bayona's home.

But then Marcos disappeared.
When Bayona failed to reach Marcos at home or on his beeper, he went to see David at the car lot. "He was with one of his little boys," Bayona recalled in his testimony, referring to Beatrice's sons Adam and Peter. "And I told him, 'Do you know anything about Marcos?' . . . And he assured me that he had spoken to his connection, to his Colombian friends, and that everything was all right."

A few days later men posing as DEA agents burst into Bayona's home in the Roads section of Miami. By coincidence, the real police had the house under surveillance in preparation for their own bust. Seizing the opportunity, the police made their move. Bayona and the invaders were arrested.

In jail one of the participants in the home invasion told Bayona that the Puigs had masterminded the invasion in order to steal the money Bayona was keeping for the Memphis dealer. After receiving a five-year sentence for drug trafficking, Bayona began helping federal prosecutors build a case against David and his son. One of the Puigs' Colombian suppliers was arrested in 1991. He, too, began cooperating.

In 1992 Marcos was arrested on separate trafficking charges. Two years later he and his father were charged with crimes relating to the Bayona home invasion.

Beatrice said under oath that she never suspected her husband was involved in drug trafficking, but she also said she and David quickly became estranged after their wedding, and that she knew very little about his business dealings. "You have to understand, this was a very rocky marriage," she explained. "One day it was good, one day it was bad. One day he was okay, one day he would put a gun to my head." The couple's first child Adam was born in August 1979; they had been married barely more than a year.

Beatrice also said that David was extremely jealous and often accused her of seeing other men, Jorge Mas in particular. Their fights led to frequent separations. Starting in 1981, Beatrice would initiate divorce proceedings almost every year.

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