Cuban man accused in Miami gold heist deported to U.S. from Belize

MIAMI Wed May 7, 2014 6:54pm EDT

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MIAMI May 7 (Reuters) - A Cuban man accused of a $2.8 million gold heist in Miami was deported from Belize and brought back to the United States on Wednesday to face charges, authorities said.

Raonel Valdez-Valhuerdis was arrested in February in Belize after immigration officials stopped him while he crawled through bushes near the border between Belize and Guatemala.

Authorities say Valdez robbed a courier at gunpoint in October 2012 in the affluent Miami suburb of Coral Gables, stealing two suitcases holding $2.8 million worth of gold nuggets bound for a nearby refinery.

"We have brought back to South Florida a violent fugitive who will be prosecuted for his alleged crimes," Amos Rojas, an official with the U.S. Marshals Service, said in a statement.

Valdez was wearing a court-mandated ankle-monitoring device at the time of the robbery.

He was later apprehended and charged, but a Miami-Dade circuit judge agreed to allow him to be released with another ankle monitor after posting a $75,000 bond.

At the time of his release, Valdez faced charges of armed robbery with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, grand theft and tampering with an electronic monitor.

Days later, Valdez stole a speedboat in the Florida Keys after jettisoning the ankle monitor, according to David Bolton, a private investigator hired to find Valdez by the owner of the gold, Bolivian-based export company Quri Wasi.

When Valdez was detained by officials in Belize, he was carrying a Cuban passport issued two months after he allegedly committed the armed robbery of the gold, officials said. (Reporting by Kevin Gray; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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