A grand jury indicted a Texas man Tuesday who federal agents say was attempting to smuggle computer equipment from the Florida Keys to Cuba.
Bryan Evan Singer was charged with smuggling goods outside of the United States and making false statements to federal law enforcement. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.
“It seems kind of absurd doesn’t it,” Singer said by telephone from Texas Wednesday. He said he did not know about the indictment until being called by a reporter.
Singer admitted loading several suitcases of computer equipment, including Ubiquiti Nanostation M2 network modems, TP Link modems and cable box circuit boards aboard his “La Mala” vessel docked in Key West on May 2. He was about to disembark for Cuba when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent boarded the boat and confiscated the merchandise.
“U.S. Customs came on board and seized everything, and that was that,” Singer said.
Singer said he took merchandise several times to Cuba before the run-in with Customs and had a person on the island nation “to drop it off with,” without identifying who that person is. He said he delivered equipment “for the support of the Cuban people,” but he did not make money from the shipments.
He never shipped “contraband,” he said, and the only law Singer said he broke was not declaring he took the items out of the United States.
The indictment states Singer did not obtain U.S. Department of Commerce and Office of Foreign Asset Control licenses to export the electronics, and those particular pieces of equipment are subject to Commerce Department regulations concerning “items that could make a significant contribution to the military potential of other nations or that could be detrimental to the foreign policy or national security of the United States.”
When shipping these types of items out of the country, the indictment states, an exporter must notify the Department of Commerce the names and addresses of all those involved in the transaction, the descriptions, quantity and value of the items being shipped, the identity of the party or parties taking possession of the merchandise and the country of destination.
The indictment also states Singer lied about the amount of merchandise aboard the ship.
Singer, who said he makes his living from a motorcycle shop he owns in Los Angeles, also frequented Cuba in the past. He would bring American members of the Latin American Motorcycle Association there to take part in events with members of the Cuban chapter of the club “to bring riders together.”
“It’s a side gig so I can transport people south so they could go riding in Cuba,” said Singer, who added he does not make money from that venture.
Singer said he knows who turned him in to Customs, but he did not name that person. When asked the tipster’s motivation, he said it was anti-Cuban bias.
“People in the Keys don’t like Cuba to begin with,” he said.