El Machetero

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Photo Credit: F. B. I.

Victor Manuel Gerena was raised in a public housing complex in Hartford, Conn. He reportedly excelled in High school; he was a member of the wrestling team and even enrolled in Annhurst College. This man is the perfect example of one too many bad decisions. After dropping out of college he ended up working tedious, low-paying jobs as an armored car guard.

On the night of Sept. 12, 1983, Gerena allegedly stole $7 million in cash from a Wells Fargo armored car depot in West Hartford, packing it into a Buick and driving away while his co-workers were tied up on the depot floor. Some called it “The Big Sleep Heist,” since Gerena also injected his co-workers with an incapacitating mixture of aspirin and water. “I thought he was going to kill me,” one co-worker recalled in a 2011 Associated Press story. “All I said was ‘Vic,’ and he said ‘Jim, I’ve got nothing against you. I’m just tired of working for other people.’ ”

Gerena had been recruited by a Puerto Rican separatist group called Los Macheteros— a group armed, advised and financed by the Cuban government —this group planned to use the stolen cash to fund its revolutionary activities. In 1984, FBI wiretaps recorded group officials arguing about what to do with the money. Later that year, Los Macheteros contacted the media and took credit for the robbery.  It’s widely believed that the Cubans sneaked Gerena into Mexico City. They stashed him in a safe house, lightened the color of his hair and gave him a phony diplomatic identity. Eventually, they put him and much of the money on a plane to Havana, where Gerena disappeared into the shadowy community of murderers, bombers, robbers and hijackers Cuba has sheltered from prosecution in the U.S and other countries since the 1960s.In 1985, the feds indicted 19 people connected to the heist. All of the suspects have since been apprehended or killed—except for Gerena, who apparently, didn’t get to keep much of the stolen cash.

You want to make a cool million? Then help the FBI catch Victor Manuel Gerena who has been on the FBI’s top ten most wanted fugitives for 32 years.

‘Don’t forget to remember the victims’ Verge Le Noir.

Portions of this post were taken from an article which first appeared in Slate written by Justin Peters. Also an article from Cuban Confidential written by Edmund H. Mahony, for the Hartford Courant

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