13 February – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Thomas S. Winkowski, Director, Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Jesus Torres, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced today the filing of a criminal complaint against defendant, Myrlene Severe, charging her with smuggling a human head into the United States without proper documentation, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 545; failing to declare the human head on the Customs declaration form, in violation Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001; and transporting hazardous material in air commerce, in violation of Title 49, United States Code, Section 46312. Each offense carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five (5) years. Defendant Severe made her initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who set bond at $100,000. The defendant is scheduled for arraignment on March 2, 2006 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry S. Seltzer.
According to the complaint and accompanying affidavit, on February 9, 2006, ICE Special Agents arrested Myrlene Severe, a Haitian national, after Customs and Border Protection Officers at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport discovered a human head with organic matter inside her checked baggage. Severe, a legal permanent resident of the United States, transported the human head on Lynx Airline flight number 210 from Cap Haitian, Haiti. Severe failed to declare the human head on the Customs declaration form.
According to the complaint affidavit, Severe stated that she had obtained the package, which contained the human head, from a male in Haiti for use as a part of her voodoo beliefs. Severe also stated that the purpose of the package was to ward off evil spirits.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Customs and Border Protection Officers and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Waugh.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.