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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

ICE arrests boat operator on alien smuggling charges

Six migrants charged with re-entering the U.S. after removal

MIAMI - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested a Cuban boat operator for attempting to smuggle 15 migrants into the United States following an ICE-led investigation.

On December 2, 2008, Rafael Suarez-Sanchez, 38, a Cuban national, was arrested by ICE agents for alien smuggling. Suarez-Sanchez made his initial appearance in court yesterday afternoon. His bond was set at $150,000 corporate surety. If convicted, Suarez-Sanchez faces up to 10 years in prison for the alien smuggling charges.

On November 26, 2008, at approximately 5:03 p.m., U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Marine Interdiction agents (MIA) assigned to the Miami Marine Unit aboard a CBP vessel were on routine patrol and observed a vessel that appeared to be over-loaded with passengers approximately three nautical miles east of Government Cut in Miami. The vessel, a 2000 Mako, had approximately eight persons visible in the cockpit area, in addition to the operator. The CBP crew intercepted the vessel without incident. Upon boarding the vessel, the CBP officers identified Suarez-Sanchez as the operator of the vessel. On board the vessel were 14 undocumented Dominican nationals and one undocumented Guyanese national. None of the undocumented nationals had permission to enter the United States.

Additionally, six of the Dominican nationals on the vessel were previously deported from the United States and were arrested for violating Title 8, United States Code, Section1326, for re-entry after having been removed from the United States. If convicted, the six Dominican nationals face up to 10 years in prison for attempting to enter the US after having been previously deported.

United States Attorney R. Alexander Acosta commended the investigative efforts of ICE's Office of Investigations and the interdiction of the defendants by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Russ Brown.

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