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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
04/14/2010

2 Cuban nationals involved in Haulover beach vessel grounding are charged with migrant smuggling

MIAMI - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents arrested Tuesday two Cuban nationals on federal criminal charges for their involvement in the April 12 migrant smuggling venture which resulted in the landing of 15 migrants and the grounding of a multi-million dollar yacht on Haulover Beach, Fla.

The criminal complaint charges Janoy Garcia-Prieto, 22, and Renier Perez-Hernandez, 24, both of Miami, with alien smuggling. If convicted, they each face between five and 15 years in prison.

"ICE strongly discourages people from taking to the seas and attempting to illegally enter the United States through maritime means," said Anthony Mangione, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Miami. "Tragically, many have lost their lives while attempting this illegal and treacherous trip. Human smugglers have a callous disregard for the value of human life and are only concerned about making a profit. ICE will continue to aggressively work with our U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) partners to identify and arrest those involved in this illicit and dangerous activity."

According to the complaint filed in court, on April 12 at approximately 6:10 p.m., a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) vessel attempted to stop a 50-foot Riviera pleasure boat near Haulover Inlet. The vessel rammed the USCG vessel before running aground at Haulover Beach. Shortly after the vessel ran aground, people were observed jumping from the vessel onto the beach. ICE special agents apprehended 14 migrants who were found ashore including one 16-year old Haitian female, two Haitian adult females, one Haitian adult male, two Jamaican adult females, four Jamaican adult males, and four Sri Lankan adult males. All 14 were charged administratively for being in violation of U.S. immigration law.

A 15th migrant, who is a male from Jamaica and who has not yet been charged administratively, was taken into the custody of the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) on charges of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer. A detainer has been placed for appropriate notification to ICE.

The 14 adult migrants are currently in ICE custody facing immigration removal proceedings. The vessel involved in this migrant smuggling venture was also seized.

The investigation was conducted by ICE's Office of Investigations in Miami with the assistance of the USCG, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations, Office of Air and Marine, and the U.S. Border Patrol.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney John Evans.