April 28, 2006
The Upland man accused of selling guns illegally from his home said in a jailhouse interview Thursday that some of the weapons were covertly supplied to him by the U.S. government, intended for an attempt to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Police say felon Robert Ferro had 1,571 firearms and some hand grenades stashed inside secret compartments and hidden rooms he built inside the sprawling foothill estate. He was arrested last week after a search of his home in connection with another case uncovered the weapons.
But in an interview Thursday, Ferro, 61, contended that some of the high-powered weapons — including assault rifles, silencer-equipped handguns and Uzis — were supplied to him by the U.S. government. He said the weapons were supposed to be used in an attempt to oust Castro that would have coincided with U.S. Navy operations being conducted in the Caribbean Sea.
"Obviously, now it will not take place," Ferro said. "Those guns I had were very sophisticated weapons. It was for a fight. I was just trying to mimic what President Bush has done in Iraq, bring freedom to the country...
"We fight for freedom," he said. "I'm advocating the same thing President Bush is doing in Iraq for my country, that's all. I don't know why I'm in trouble for that."
Ferro, who says he's a member of a Miami-based group, Alpha 66, that advocates the overthrow of Castro's regime, said Thursday that about 50 other U.S. citizens were scheduled to accompany him to Cuba, with further assistance coming from people inside Cuba.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Einmiller said her office was investigating the possibility that other anti-Castro sympathizers connected to Ferro had stashed weapons in their homes.
"Mr. Ferro's motives, and all aspects of what Mr. Ferro's statements have been — whether or not he was planning violent acts — are under investigation," she said. "No one else has been arrested in this matter."
Alpha 66 leader Ernesto Diaz said last week that Ferro was not a member of the group.
In the 1990s, Ferro was sentenced to two years in prison for possessing 5 pounds of the putty-like explosive C-4. In a 1991 raid, police said Ferro, then a licensed gun dealer, was arrested at the Upland home, where deputies seized an illegal assault rifle and semiautomatic shotgun. About 300 legal firearms were not confiscated.
Prosecutors in the 1990s case said Ferro was an Alpha 66 member training Mexicans at a Pomona chicken ranch he owned for a Castro overthrow attempt.