Cuba Arrests 17 linked to Russian Trafficking Network Recruiting Cubans for War in Ukraine   

As reported in yesterday’s post to this blog, the Cuban Government on September 4th stated that it “has detected and it is working to neutralize and dismantle a human trafficking network that operates from Russia in order to incorporate Cuban citizens living there and even some living in Cuba, into the military forces that participate in military operations in Ukraine. Attempts of this nature have been neutralized and criminal proceedings have been initiated against those involved in these activities.” Moreover, “Cuba’s enemies are promoting distorted information that seeks to tarnish the country’s image and present it as an accomplice to these transact actions that we firmly reject.”[1]

On September 7, Cubavision (Cuba’s national television news) reported that “Lieutenant Colonel Frank Hernández Estrada, head of [Cuba’s] Department of the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation, of the Ministry of the Interior (Minint), stated that, after an investigative process, 17 people acknowledged their participation in human trafficking operations for military recruitment purposes and that three of them “ are directly linked to the coordination of a group that would be incorporated into the war conflict in Ukraine.”[2]

This report also stated that “Minint maintains the investigation process open, works on the neutralization and dismantling of networks or citizens who, from the national territory, participate in any form of human trafficking for the purposes of recruitment or mercenarism that implies that citizens Cubans use weapons against another country.”

“José Luis Reyes Blanco, chief prosecutor of [Cuba’s] Directorate of Criminal Proceedings of the Attorney General’s Office, . . . stated that these crimes are classified as very serious, because they affect legal assets of special significance and connotation for peace and international law.”

“Eva Yelina Silva Walker, director of International Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Minrex), affirmed that Cuba plays an active role in the UN, in repudiation and condemnation of mercenarism, human trafficking and smuggling. ‘We are committed to compliance with the international instruments to which the Island is a State party, such as the United Nations Convention against transnational organized crime and its protocols on human trafficking and migrant smuggling.’”

All of these officials “stated, categorically, that Cuba is not part of the war conflict in Ukraine.”


[1] Cuban Criminal Prosecution of  “Trafficking Network” for Recruiting Cubans for Russian Armed Forces, (Sept. 7, 2023).

[2] Cuba vigorously confronts human trafficking for military recruitment purposes (+ Video), Granma (Sept. 7, 2023); Live Updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine (Cuba arrests people linked to Russian trafficking network recruiting Cubans for war in Ukraine), (Sept. 8, 2023)