LAWFUEL – Press Release Service – On July 8, 2006, at approximately 5:45 a.m., the United States Coast Guard interdicted a vessel carrying 31 Cuban migrants and three crew members. The vessel, an unregistered 36-foot go-fast boat, refused the Coast Guard’s orders to stop and accelerated to evade capture despite rough seafaring conditions. The Coast Guard stopped the vessel near Boca Chica, Florida, following a chase and took the three defendants and 31 Cuban migrants into custody. One migrant subsequently died.
On July 10, 2006, the United States Attorney’s Office charged Rolando Gonzalez-Delgado, Heinrich Castillo-Diaz, and Yamil Gonzalez-Rodriguez, by criminal complaint, with encouraging or inducing aliens to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law, with said conduct resulting in a death. The statutory maximum term of imprisonment is a term of life.
The United States determined that the presence of the 28 migrants in the United States best furthered the United States’ interest in a criminal prosecution of this matter. The United States has thus landed the 28 migrants pursuant to material witness warrants, under the authority of 18 U.S.C. § 3144.
This decision is the result of the unique circumstances of this specific criminal matter and is a reflection of our determination to engage in a complete investigation and a vigorous prosecution of all individuals associated with this incident using all prosecutorial tools at our disposal. Smugglers often treat migrants as if they were human cargo, with blatant disregard for individual life and safety. This must stop. The United States Attorneys Office for the Southern District of Florida and the United States Coast Guard Command District 7 stand determined to work jointly to achieve that goal.
The United States Attorney’s Office continues to investigate this incident to determine whether additional charges are appropriate. Further information will be available after that determination is made.