As Medicare crime spreads across South Florida, accused scammers are escaping in droves to Cuba and other Latin American countries to avoid prosecution with more than 150 fugitives wanted for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the health care program, says the Miami Herald, citing the FBI and court records. The tally of fugitives charged with health fraud in Miami has tripled since 2008.
During the past three years, the FBI has captured only 16 fugitives, reflecting the difficulty in catching Spanish-speaking suspects who head south to hide out. Most of the fugitives were born in Cuba, immigrated to South Florida after 1990 and can easily live under the radar in Latin America with hundreds of thousands or millions in taxpayer dollars fleeced from Medicare. Even if fugitives can be located in Cuba, there's no way to get them back because of political realities. “They go to Cuba so they can't be caught,'' said Rolando Betancourt, a longtime Miami bail bondsman who has tracked one Medicare fugitive to Havana. “You can find anybody in Cuba; you just can't arrest them.''