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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Illegal alien and drug smuggler sentenced to 22 years in prison

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - A former resident of the Bahamas, was sentenced here last Friday for his participation in an alien smuggling conspiracy which resulted in the deaths of three aliens, and a narcotics smuggling conspiracy that involved the transportation of 14 kilograms of cocaine, two kilograms of heroin and 83 pounds of marijuana from the Bahamas to Jupiter Island following a multi-agency law enforcement investigation.

According to the evidence presented, Leon Brice Johnson and his co-defendant Rickey Thompson participated in two separate smuggling trips - one in August 2006 and a second in December 2006.During each trip, Thompson, the boat captain, and Johnson, the co-captain, transported a group of illegal aliens and narcotics from Freeport, Bahamas, to Jupiter Island, aboard Thompson's 33-foot speed boat. The aliens paid Thompson fees ranging from $1,500 to $4,000 for the trip and were assured that Thompson would drop them off on the beach or in water no higher than their knees.

During both trips, Thompson drove the boat without lights to avoid detection and made frequent stops whenever he believed he saw or heard a Coast Guard vessel. On each occasion, Thompson and Johnson ordered the aliens off the boat approximately 50 to 100 yards from the shore of Jupiter Island, in deep, rough waters. Each time, there were aliens aboard the boat who could not swim and who asked to remain on the boat. Ignoring the pleas, Thompson and Johnson forced the aliens off the boat at gun point. Two Haitian nationals drowned including Roselyne Lubin and Alnert Charles during the August trip and one Jamaican national, Nigel Warren, drowned during the December trip.

On the August trip, several of the aliens complied with Thompson's order and jumped; however, others who could not swim, including Roselyne Lubin and Alnert Charles, Haitian nationals, remained on the boat. Johnson then forced the remaining aliens off the boat at gun point. The aliens jumped over and attempted to swim to shore. Four of the aliens made it to shore and the lifeless bodies of Ms. Lubin and Mr. Alnert were found floating in the water near Jupiter Island.

The defendants also transported large quantities of narcotics, including cocaine, heroin and marijuana during both trips.

Thompson, who was convicted following a jury trial on all 30 counts of a federal Indictment charging him with murder, alien smuggling and narcotics trafficking, is pending sentencing and faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment on the murder charges, ten years to life on the cocaine and heroin smuggling charges, up to 20 years on the alien smuggling charges, up to five years on the marijuana charge, up to ten years on the illegal re-entry charge and consecutive seven and 25 year prison terms on the firearms charges.

R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida commended the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Drug Enforcement Administration, Martin County Sheriff's Office, Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, U.S. Border Patrol, Jupiter Island Public Safety Department, and Tequesta Police Department for their investigation of this matter. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Adrienne Rabinowitz and Lauren Jorgensen, with assistance from Ellen Cohen, all of the West Palm Beach U. S. Attorney's Office.