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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
06/16/2008

6 indicted in West Palm Beach alien smuggling investigation involving 1 death

Suspects face up to life in prison

MIAMI - A human smuggling investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other Department of Homeland Security agencies and local West Palm Beach County law enforcement agencies led to the 38-count indictment of six additional defendants charged with alien smuggling and alien smuggling resulting in a death. The second superseding indictment was unsealed today, charging additional defendants Luis Perez, 30, of Loxahatchee, FL, Angel Arce-Perez, 42, of Miami, FL, and Aurelio Sanchez-Ortega, 19, of Miami, with alien smuggling, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1324(a)(1)(A)i. If convicted, each defendant faces a possible sentence of up to life imprisonment. Defendants Duany Jimenez, 24, Maikel Soto, 28, and Angel Julio Navarro-Lliteras were previously indicted in this case and are presently incarcerated.

The indictment alleges that defendant Luis Perez was a Cuban national who, along with others, helped arrange smuggling boat trips for Cuban aliens seeking to enter the United States. None of the Cuban nationals had legal documents allowing them to enter or reside in the United States.

Defendant Aurelio Sanchez-Ortega operated the vessel that brought the illegal Cubans - 35 migrants in total including a 39-year-old male that drowned before reaching shore - into the United States. Defendant Angel Arce-Perez was the co-captain with Aurelio Sanchez-Ortega. Defendant Maikel Soto was the true owner of the vessel operated by his two co-defendants, and helped coordinate the smuggling trip. Defendant Duany Jimenez assisted in concealing the smuggling operation by, among other things, cleaning the vessel after it brought Cuban nationals into the United States, thus concealing the true purpose of the vessel from law enforcement. Defendant Angel Navarro-Lliteras attempted to transport an undocumented Cuban national after he entered the United States. All the defendants were Cuban nationals.

R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, commended the investigative efforts of the agents and officers of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, West Palm Beach Police Department, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and the Police Department, Town of Palm Beach. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Emalyn Webber.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.