‘I made a mistake and I’m still paying for it,’ says Antonio Bascaro, now 84, who was denied clemency by the Obama administration
The man who served the longest cannabis-related sentence in American history is set to be released from prison today.
Former pilot Antonio “Tony” Bascaro, who’s now 84 years old, has spent the past 40 years in a Miami prison for his involvement in a cannabis-smuggling operation in the 1970s, in which he imported over half a million pounds of cannabis into the U.S.
Upon release, the Cuban exile and CIA-trained Bay of Pigs veteran will stay at a halfway house while he waits to find out if he will be deported due to his lack of American citizenship.
“My life will be in jeopardy, if deported,” Bascaro told the Washington Examiner. “But I’m ready [for] anything that may happen at my release.”
Bascaro does not have any legal representation, but hopes for support from fellow Bay of Pigs vets if officials opt to try and deport him. “The people that know him from that group have been very supportive,” said daughter Myra Bascaro, who last saw her father outside of prison when she was 13 years old. “If they try to send him away, possibly to Guatemala or Cuba, I know they are going to stand up for him.”
Bascaro was previously recruited by the CIA to travel to Guatemala to train as part of the agency’s attempt to topple the government of then-dictator Fidel Castro. The operation was a massive failure, with at least 100 fatalities.
The former pilot was initially set to be transferred to the halfway house last year, but was ultimately kept in prison as a result of his lack of American citizenship. Attempts to seek clemency under the Obama administration were unsuccessful. “I made a mistake and I’m still paying for it,” Bascaro said in 2016 at Miami Federal Correctional Institution.
Bascaro is set to meet with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office on June 11 to discuss his fate.
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