San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Savings Unlimited fugitive Milanés arrested in El Salvador

Interpol officers arrested international fugitive Luis Milanés yesterday as he attempted to board a flight to Costa Rica at the InternationalAirport in El Salvador, and quickly deported him to this country.

Milanés, a Cuban-American, disappeared in November 2002 with more than $200 million that had been invested in his firm, called Savings Unlimited.

A competitor of the well-known, defunct operation “The Brothers,” run by Luis Enrique and Oswaldo Villalobos, Savings Unlimited brought in a mix of U.S. residents, other foreigners and Costa Ricans.

Luis Enrique similarly disappeared a few months before Milanés, taking an estimated $800 million with him, and is still wanted today. Oswaldo, however, was convicted of illegal financial intermediation last year (TT, June 6).

According to Interpol, Milanés was carrying a Costa Rican passport with the last names Rodríguez Martínez. When questioned by Salvadoran police, Milanés allegedly showed a second, expired identification from Cuba with his real name, Interpol said. A computer check by the officials of that name brought up the international arrest warrant issued Dec. 19, 2002, by San José Criminal Court. 

Milanés was immediately deported to Costa Rica on a Taca flight, landing in Costa Rica at 2:40 pm. Judicial Investigation Police were waiting at the JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport in San José to arrest Milanés when he arrived.

Milanés, who is facing charges of money laundering, was escorted from the airport in handcuffs. He paused, however, to tell the gathered press that he was innocent and had surrendered to Salvadoran officials voluntarily. 

Milanés’ investment operation, Savings Unlimited, offered investors 3 to 4 percent monthly interest on minimum investments of $5,000.

Milanés was also the head of the casino conglomerate Casinos Europa, which ran Casino Europa, at the Radisson Hotel; Hotel Morazán and its Casino Tropical; Royal Dutch Casino; the Toby Brown hair salons; and ASCIA, a business that imported clothing, electronics and toys, among other goods (TT, July 26, 2002, Dec. 13, 2003).

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