Named among these figures is DeSantis’ chief of staff, James Uthmeier, who oversaw scheming in San Antonio. ”Florida’s public safety czar, Larry Keefe, served as point person for the program in Texas, documents show.” The Miami Herald report said that the latter actually, once upon a time, represented Vertol Systems Company Inc., the contractor and GOP megadonor that got paid big bucks to shuttle human beings for DeSantis.
From Texas, Keefe messaged Uthmeier that “conditions” were “quite favorable,” Miami Herald said. It’s unclear if this was in the literal sense, as in Oh, its a nice sunny day today, or instead, Our scheming is going according to plan, evil laugh. “Very good,” Uthmeier replied, according to Miami Herald. “You have my full support. Call anytime.”
Both Uthmeier and Vertol Systems Company Inc. are specifically named in a recent lawsuit launched by the Florida Center for Government Accountability watchdog that’s asking a court to force DeSantis to release public records related to the stunt. Text messages were “obtained by the Herald and other organizations through public records requests,” though it's unclear if Florida Center for Government Accountability was among them.
What does continue to be clear is that Emmanuel and dozens of others were lied to, misled, and outright tricked by the orchestrators of this political scheme. Emmanuel even said he had Huerta’s name saved in his phone as “Perla Hermosa,” or, “beautiful Perla.” The migrant “said he believed he was part of a benevolent mission run by a kind and compassionate woman,” one who was offering desperate people all sorts of lifelines, the report said. “Huerta told him she was a military veteran. He trusted her.”
“I don’t know who is good, and who is bad,” Emmanuel now says, according to the report. “It’s like something is eating me from the inside.”
The mysterious “Perla” was later revealed to be former combat medic and counterintelligence agent Perla Huerta. She recently left the military after two decades under circumstances not publicly known. Like so many scammers throughout history, she’s seemingly vanished without a trace, deleting social media profiles and even putting up her Tampa house for sale, the report said. We also see that at least one top official within DeSantis’ office was very much involved in carrying out this scheme. Meanwhile, the governor’s office has actively stalled on releasing public records into the scheme. If it feels shady, it probably is shady, folks.
Is there some hope of justice for the victims of this scam? We desperately hope. Last week a Texas sheriff signed off on certain documentation that could ultimately help victims gain permanent relief here. A U-visa is available to victims of crime who are helpful to law enforcement in their investigations. But because of an annual cap and massive backlog, relief could be many years away. Emmanuel himself has been cooperating with Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar’s probe, though its unclear if he’s seeking a humanitarian visa.
”Legitimate operations don't hide bags of money behind BBQ restaurants,” tweeted Florida House Democrats. “This is an embarrassment for Florida.”
Texas sheriff's sign-off means DeSantis' migrant victims may get chance to stay here permanently
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Attorneys for migrants tricked by DeSantis say now-identified 'Perla' will be named in suit
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