The rest of the Zapeta story
A little over two years ago Pedro Zapeta tried bringing $59,000 home on a flight to Guatemala.
STUART — On Sept. 18, 2005, a security checkpoint inspector at Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale Airport unzipped an overnight bag.I'm curious why the Palm Beach felt they needed to do another long expose on Zepeta and put it on the front page. Zepeta's story has been reported many times of late, and been the subject of multiple columns by at least one Palm Beach Post columnist.
Inside, he found five white and manila envelopes taped closed. He opened them and discovered that they were stuffed with $20, $50 and $100 bills, totaling $59,000. The passenger was headed abroad - Guatemala - and should have declared anything over $10,000. He hadn't.
Everyone agrees on those facts, but beyond that the stories diverge radically.
In the end, the question has come down to this: Is the owner of the bag, Pedro Zapeta, a poor working stiff or is he a courier for drug smugglers?
Zapeta, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, claims he saved the money dollar by dollar while working seven years as a dishwasher in Martin County. He says he was headed home to open a business and start a new life and was unaware that he was obligated to declare the savings as he departed.
But according to the accounts of the security inspector, officers of the Broward County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, when they asked Zapeta about the money, he lied several times, changing his story about the stash and to whom it belonged.
Perhaps this is the reason.
The report written by DEA agent Michael Baker described the money as being packaged "in a style of bundling which is consistent with the manner that drug traffickers and money launderers package and conceal large amounts of currency."Anyone who knows an attorney willing to work for $500, please refer them to me.
Apart from not declaring the money, nowhere in the report is there a claim that Zapeta tried to hide the money. Once the bag was open, the cash was easy to find.
According to the DEA report:
Zapeta then told a Spanish-speaking detective he had received the money from a person in Stuart whose name he did not know.
"Zapeta stated once he arrived in Guatemala he expected to receive a telephone call from an unidentified person and that person would give him additional instructions as to the deliveries," Baker wrote.
Zapeta then identified four men who were to receive the money, but had only their first names - Francisco, Luis, Nicolas and Tomas. But he "could not provide any additional information related to the identity of these individuals or how to get in touch with them."
"Later Zapeta changed his story and said all of the money was his," Baker wrote. "A short time later Zapeta changed his story a third time and stated $15,000 of the money was his but he could not identify which envelope was his."
Court documents include a piece of paper, allegedly found in Zapeta's bag, with the names of the four men. Next to the name Tomas is the figure 10,000.
Washing dishes again
Zapeta says he knows men by those names, but they live in Florida, not Guatemala. He says he doesn't remember how he came to have the piece of paper or exactly what he was asked by the detectives or what he answered.
Despite admitting to lying and to memory lapses, Zapeta says he soon claimed all the money was his. And according to Baker's report, the large white and manila envelopes contained 12 smaller envelopes, almost all of which had written on them variations of Zapeta's own name - Zapeta, Pedro, Pedrito and Mariano, his middle name. The envelopes did not bear the names of other people.
According to Zapeta, a detective at the airport that day told him not to worry. "Hire an attorney for $500, and you'll get your money back," he recalls being advised.
Reading today's article I have an even harder time accepting Zepeta's story, and I've had from the beginning. That because of his faulty memory and transparent lies. How much of this man's word are we supposed to buy?
Before anyone raises the notion that its costing the government more money to fight Zapeta than its worth. If cost was first calculated when it comes to enforcing most of our laws, a great many dangerous criminals would be on the street today. Zepeta isn't one of them, but he did break the law. Many times over. He gets no sympathy from me. I wish the MSM would concentrate on legal aliens who get screwed by the system, rather than illegals who screw the system then whine when the system bites back for once.
Note- I'm not an illegal alien hardass. If you look through my archives, it would be obvious. I am just thoroughly sick of the Zapeta story when this Floridian is facing deportation for nothing more than her husband dying before her immigration paperwork was done. Save your sympathy for Dahianna Heard.
Linked to- Populist, Right Wing Nation, Rosemary, Third World County,