LAWFUEL – Legal News, Legal Jobs – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Rear Admiral David W. Kunkel, United States Coast Guard, and John Beutlich, Director of Air Operations, Office of Air and Marine, Paul Blocker, Chief of United States Customs and Border Protection, Office of Border Patrol, announced the November 1, 2006, verdict of guilty against defendant, Albert Pina-Suarez, on all twenty five counts of an indictment charging him with alien-smuggling and failure to heave to law enforcement officers who ordered him to stop.
On May 4, 2006, Air Crew from the United States Coast Guard in Miami, Florida, observed a “go-fast” vessel approximately thirty-five (35) miles south of Key West, Florida, traveling northbound at a high rate of speed. Small Boat Crews from the United States Coast Guard stations in Marathon and Key West intercepted the vessel approximately six (6) miles south of Summerland Key, Florida.
The United States Coast Guard vessels activated their emergency lights and sirens and pursued the go-fast boat. The go-fast operator, defendant Pina-Suarez, refused to yield to the U.S. Coast Guard vessels when he was ordered to do so by both boat crews. United States Customs and Border Protection Marine Agents arrived on scene and joined the pursuit. Pina-Suarez ignored repeated law enforcement commands to stop his vessel. The chase lasted for nearly an hour before Pina-Suarez’s vessel ran aground at Pye Key, Florida, an uninhabited mangrove island approximately 24 miles east of Key West.
Once Pina-Suarez’s vessel ran aground, twenty-three (23) Cuban nationals jumped off of the go-fast boat and ran onto Pye Key, abandoning one Cuban national with a broken leg on Pina-Suarez’s vessel. Pina-Suarez then attempted to flee in his boat, but he was stranded on a sand bar. Pina-Suarez was apprehended by United States Customs and Border Protection Marine Agents after he jumped from the boat and attempted to make his way to shore.
Once removed from the island, United States Customs and Border Patrol Agents interviewed and processed the migrants. All twenty-four (24) individuals claimed to be citizens and nationals of Cuba who entered the United States without prior authorization.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the United States Coast Guard, United States Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air Marine and United States Customs and Border Protection, Office of Border Patrol. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Karlyn J. Hunter and Special Assistant United States Attorney Paul Lehmann.
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 http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/ or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov/ .