MIAMI (WSVN) - An 84-year-old Bay of Pigs veteran pilot has been freed from prison after serving the longest sentence for a federal non-violent marijuana offense.
Antonio “Tony” Bascaro was released from the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami to his family after he spent 39 years behind bars.
He was originally sentenced to 60 years but received time off for good behavior.
Bascaro’s sentence officially ends on June 8, and had been expected to spend the remainder of those days at a halfway house but was allowed to spend them on house arrest instead.
He plans to serve the last month of his sentence at his sister’s house in Hialeah.
“First time that I come out with no chains, so I got to start just getting used to it,” said Bascaro.
Bascaro is a Cuban immigrant veteran who was trained by the CIA to overthrow Fidel Castro’s government.
He was charged as a member of a trafficking operation moving marijuana in the late 1970s.
“They sentenced me with the toughest sentence made special for the big, Italian mafia people, and I’m paying for it because I didn’t cooperate,” said Bascaro.
Approximately 600,000 pounds of the drug were transported from Colombia to Florida using fishing boats.
Court records state Bascaro, along with Manuel Villanueva and Jose Acosta, were the ringleaders, but he had stated Acosta was the leader of the group.
Acosta and others involved in the operation offered information to receive a reduced sentence. Bascaro refused to testify against the others.
After his release on Wednesday morning he enjoyed his first meal outside of jail with a side of Cuban coffee.
Although his family is celebrating now, they worry his freedom may be short-lived as he awaits to meet with immigration officials.
“If he goes to Cuba, he will be a political prisoner. Either way, he will be in danger, so we’re hoping that they do the right thing and they keep him here with us,” said Myra Bascaro, the 84-year-old’s daughter. “He was part of the Brigada of the Bay of Pigs, so we’re hoping that he can stay here in Miami with his family.”
Bascaro’s family said he is expected to meet with immigration officials on June 11, where they should find out more about his status in the U.S.
“At least we have him now, and he will be going home today, so it’s really exciting but now is another date,” said Myra.
The 84-year-old’s daughter has set up a petition for President Trump to grant him Clemency.
“Nobody has spent longer in prison for a marijuana, non-violent first offense. No one,” said Myra.
To sign the petition, click here.
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