Men Indicted In Immigrant Smuggling Operation Off Riviera Beach
WEST PALM BEACH (CBS4)-A 25-year-old boat captain faces the death penalty in connection with an ill-fated June 14 immigrant smuggling operation that left a pregnant woman dead and another woman critically injured when the boat capsized near Delray Beach.
Tarran Maynard was indicted this week after telling investigators he was paid $10,000 to ferry 11 Bahamian, Jamaican and Haitian nationals from Freeport, Bahamas to South Florida. He told federal agents the money was lost when the 24-foot boat capsized about 12 miles off Riviera Beach.
Maynard said a man he identified as “Biggs” threatened to harm him and his family if he didn’t take the job, court records show. He later identified Biggs as Andrew Smith, who was one of the passengers.
Smith, 37, was also indicted this week. He and four other Jamaicans are charged with trying to re-enter the country illegally after being deported for having felony convictions. All face a maximum 20 years in prison.
Maynard is charged with 28 separate crimes because of the number of people aboard the boat. The most serious charge – encouraging and inducing aliens to enter the U.S. resulting in death – is punishable by life imprisonment or death.
Petty Officer Nick Ameen said a Coast Guard cutter began following the 24-foot boat in the early morning hours on June 14 because it did not have its navigational lights on.
The boat tried to elude authorities before stopping around 4 a.m. 12 miles off Delray Beach, according to Ameen.
That’s when Ameen said the crew spotted numerous people emerging from the boat’s lower cabin. Then the boat capsized.
After the U.S. Coast Guard plucked 11 of people out of the water, they discovered the body of a woman, later identified as Jeanne Pierre, under the boat that capsized after the engine failed. Another woman, Shoudna Charles, didn’t have a pulse when she was rescued, agents said. She was taken to an unidentified hospital where, as of June 16, she was in critical condition.
The six who were indicted are in federal custody. In addition to Maynard and Smith, they are: Patrick Campbell, 33, Basil Barker, no age available, Anthony Smith, 43, and Gary Mitchell, 40.
There was no information about the current whereabouts of the four others who were rescued. Two of them were children. The other two were identified as Nickardo Bailey and Edwige Silvain.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)