HAITIAN BOAT CAPTAIN CONVICTED AND LEVIED HEAVY FINES FOR ASSISTING 8 PERSONS IN ILLEGAL EMBARKATION!

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Nassau – A Haitian Man who was the Captain of a Bahamian registered vessel, along with 8 foreign nationals appeared before the Freeport Magistrate’s Court and were all convicted of Illegal Embarkation, Overstaying and Illegal Landing.

On Monday, Haitian national Jean Vera aka Vera Bora 36, appeared in the Freeport Magistrate’s Court #3 before Magistrate Rengin Johnson charged with Illegal Landing, Illegal Embarkation and Assisting Illegal Embarkation.

The Bahamas Immigration Department brought the charges against Vera, subsequent to his interdiction at sea 3:30am last Thursday by USCG, in a disabaled Grand Bahama registered vessel, some 23 miles West of Grand Bahama. The vessel was reportedly taking on water. At the time of the interdiction, Vera, who was the captain of the vessel, had 8 other foreign nationals onboard with him; 3 Haitians, 4 Ecuadorians and 1 Dominican. The group were all heading to the U.S after departing Grand Bahama.

To the charge of Illegal Landing Vera pled guilty and was fined $300 or serve a default sentence of 6 months at the BDCS. As to the charge of Illegal Embarkation Vera also pled guilty as charged and was fined $300 or serve a default sentence of 6 months. The charge of Assisting in Illegal Embarkation, which was the more serious of the 3 charges levied in which Vera, being the captain of the vessel, assisted to smuggle 8 foreign nationals to the United States. Vera pled guilty and was subsequently fined $3000.00 for each person totalling $24,000.00. He was given a default sentence of 12 months at the BDOC and the sentences are to run consecutively. Vera was also ordered deported to Haiti upon payment of fine or upon completion of serving his court imposed custodial sentences.

4 Ecuadorians males, Mario Guartatanga 24, Pablo Quezada 34, Cristhian Palaguachi 18 and Claudio Loja 30, who were also on the vessel with Jean Vera, appeared in the Freeport Magistrate’s court charged with Illegal Embarkation and Overstaying. They all pled guilty to both charges and to the charge of Overstaying they were ordered to pay $3000.00 each or serve a default sentence of 9 months. To the charge of Illegal Embarkation the Ecuadorians were ordered to pay $300.00 each or serve a default sentence of 3 months. The sentences are to run concurrently and the men were ordered deported to Ecuador upon payment of fine or upon completion of their Court imposed custodial sentences.

Convicted boat Captain and human smuggler Haitian national Jean Vera aka Vera Bora 36, ordered to pay over $24,000.00 in fines or serve a default sentence of 24 months at BDCS.

Haitian nationals Naomi Joseph 25, and Jackson Perrilus 22, also had their day in court to answer to the charges of Illegal Landing, Overstaying and Illegal Embarkation. To the charge of Overstaying Perrilus pled guilty and was ordered to pay $3000.00 or serve a default sentence of 9 months at the BDCS New Providence. As to the charge of Illegal Embarkation they both pled guilty and were each ordered to pay $300.00 or serve a default sentence of 6 months. Joseph was also charged with Illegal Landing to which she pled guilty, convicted and ordered to pay $300.00 or serve a default sentence of 6 months. The sentences are to run concurrently and they were both ordered deported upon payment of fine or upon completion of their Court imposed custodial sentences.

Dominican national Miguel Negrette 54, also appeared in the Freeport Magistrate’s Court to answer to similar charges as his co accused. To the charge of Overstaying Negrette pled guilty and was fined $1000.00 or serve a default sentence of 9 months. Negrette was also charged with Illegal Embarkation to which he pled guilty and was fined $300 with a default sentence of 6 months. He was also ordered to be deported to the Dominican Republic upon payment of fine or upon completion of his court imposed custodial sentences which are to run concurrently.

The Immigration Department is committed to prosecuting to the fullest extent of the Law all those persons who find themselves in contravention of the Immigration Laws. Assisting Illegal Embarkation is a serious offense which upon summary conviction, carries a penalty of up to $5000.00 per person and a default sentence of up to 2 years in prison or to both such fines and imprisonment.