Man charged in $3M cigarette heist faces re-indictment
A South Florida man who in January allegedly stole $3 million worth of cigarettes from Love’s Truck Stop in Jefferson County is no stranger to extremely high-dollar illegal transactions, according to federal court documents.
Abisari Fuentes, a 28-year-old Cuban-American truck driver, allegedly was hauling almost a ton of marijuana when he was detained at a checkpoint north of Laredo, Texas in December 2011.
The 88 bundles of marijuana, which weighed 1,960 pounds, were in a hidden compartment at the front of the trailer, according to a criminal complaint filed in South Texas.
That Fuentes could have obtained that much marijuana in South Texas without direct or indirect dealings with Mexican drug cartels seems extremely unlikely.
Fuentes, who also goes by the first name Abisael, was indicted for conspiracy to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana in Texas. Federal prosecutors dropped the charge, but reserved the right to bring the matter up at a later date.
U.S. Magistrate Dennis H. Inman, who recently ordered Fuentes to be held until the massive cigarette-theft case is adjudicated, indicated Fuentes could be re-indicted “soon.”
Fuentes came to the United States from Cuba when he was 20 years old.
Inman concluded Fuentes lied when he said he had only returned to Cuba one time since leaving, and on that occasion was turned back at an airport in Cuba.
Flight records indicate he traveled to Cuba multiple times in 2011 and once in 2012, according to the federal judge.
Fuentes allegedly stole a tractor-trailer that contained 550,000 packs of cigarettes on Jan. 25. He was pulling the stolen trailer behind another rig when he was stopped on Interstate 26 in Unicoi County the following day.
Circumstantial evidence suggests the Cuban-born truck driver, is part of a sophisticated criminal network.
The truck Fuentes was driving when he was taken into custody is registered to another Hialeah, Fla. resident named Abimael Fuente.
In 2009, a man named Abimael Fuente, who is also from Hialeah, was arrested after he allegedly stole $8.8 million worth of pharmaceutical drugs from a truck stop in Georgia, according to federal officials.
-By Robert Moore, Tribune Staff Writer