MARATHON (CBSMiami) – A stolen boat was recovered in the Florida Keys, but not before a chase involving Customs and Border Protection.
Two Las Vegas, Nevada men were eventually arrested for stealing the boat and allegedly attempting to smuggle migrants.
The boat’s owner reported his 26-foot Robalo valued at approximately $65,000 stolen from his home on Sombrero Boulevard in Marathon between Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.
While on extra patrols due to recent reports of stolen boats, Customs and Border Protection boat’s crew with a Monroe County Sheriff’s detective onboard spotted the boat offshore of Marathon.
According to authorities, the boat’s driver would not stop and took evasive measure to escape by ramming the Customs boat. The stolen boat began taking on water when the boat cracked due to the impact.
Once stopped, authorities found the boat was equipped with several large drums filled with gasoline.
Ledian Yusnier Acosta-Gonzalez and Dioselis Fuentes-Nodarse were arrested.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office reports the men said they stole the boat, loaded it with gas, food and water and planned to go to Cuba to illegally smuggle five Cubans to the United States.
Further, the men said they fled and planned to beach the boat and run.
Both men were charged with grand theft with property damage and a health and safety law violation for having the gasoline on the vessel. Acosta-Gonzalez was additionally charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, fleeing police in a boat and criminal mischief.
Sheriff’s detectives have asked for anyone with additional information or a crime tip should contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-346-TIPS.