WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Six criminal aliens from the Caribbean involved in an August 2009 failed alien smuggling venture from the Bahamas were sentenced to serve between two years and 11 years and four months in prison following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The captain of the smuggling boat, Geno Rolle, 27, of the Bahamas, was sentenced Feb. 19 to 11 years and three months in prison.
On Feb. 26, U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp sentenced Rolle's co-defendants Edgar Lanau, 34, of the Bahamas, to six years and 10 months in prison; Royan Walters, 32, of Jamaica, to three years and five months in prison; Tracy Joseph, 39, of the Bahamas to six and a half years, and Jean Simbert, 41, of Haiti, to five years and three months in prison. All the defendants were sentenced for attempting to illegally re-enter the United States aboard Rolle's boat. A fifth passenger, Audley Similien, 42, of the Bahamas, was also convicted of attempting to illegally re-enter the United States after having been previously deported, and was sentenced on Feb. 5 to three years, five months in prison.
The smuggling boat was first detected by U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) pilots on Aug. 29, 2009, at approximately 11:45 p.m., as the boat approached the shore of West Palm Beach. The boat was traveling at almost 45 miles per hour without any navigational lights. The five passengers, all of whom had previously been convicted of aggravated felony offenses including drug trafficking, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and attempted armed robbery with a firearm, were attempting to surreptitiously re-enter the United States. Rolle, the boat captain, had also been previously deported from the United States.
Rolle was found guilty after a jury trial on two counts of aiding and assisting aggravated felons with entering the United States and one count of illegally re-entering the United States. Four of the passengers were found guilty after a jury trial and the fifth pleaded guilty.
The investigation was conducted by ICE's Office of Investigations in West Palm Beach with the assistance of CBP Office of Field Operations, Air and Marine Branch, the U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adrienne Rabinowitz and William Zloch.