WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation, Kelsey James McQueen, 41, a Bahamian national, has been charged in connection with an April 28 failed migrant smuggling venture, which resulted in the interdiction of the vessel Mary Carla.
McQueen had his initial appearance on May 3 in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach on alien smuggling charges pursuant to a criminal complaint. A detention hearing is scheduled for May 10 at 10 a.m. If convicted, he faces a minimum of five years and a maximum of 15 years in prison.
According to the complaint affidavit filed with the court, on April 28 at approximately 7 p.m., the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine Operations received information that the vessel Mary Carla, which had departed from Freeport, Grand Bahamas en-route to the West Palm Beach area, was allegedly involved in a smuggling operation.
At approximately 11:30 p.m., a CBP air unit spotted a vessel matching the vessel depicted in the photograph approximately 18 nautical miles east of the Lake Worth inlet. When the suspect vessel was approximately 11.8 miles off the Palm Beach shoreline, CBP Marine units attempted to stop it. The boat operator, who was later identified as McQueen, did not comply with the commands to stop and attempted to flee.
CBP Marine Units pursued the vessel, boarded it, and brought it to a stop off the Palm Beach shoreline. CBP Marine Interdiction Agents identified a total of 14 individuals aboard the vessel, including McQueen.
ICE special agents arrested McQueen and four migrants yesterday on federal criminal charges. Andrew Fitzgerald Saint Aubyn Brissett, 45, Sheldon Lewis, 34, and Oneil Black, 31 - all Jamaican nationals - and Juan Carlos Paredes-Rodriguez, 34, of the Dominican Republic, made an initial appearance May 3 on charges of illegal re-entry into the U.S. after deportation. If convicted, they each face a statutory maximum of up to two years in prison.
The investigation was conducted by ICE's Office of Investigations in Miami, the U.S. Coast Guard, CBP's Office of Field Operations, Office of Air and Marine, and the U.S. Border Patrol.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William T. Zloch.
A complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.