LAWFUEL – US ATTORNEY – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Anthony V. Mangione, Acting Special Agent in Charge, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security and Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Miami Field Division; announced today the filing of an Indictment charging boat captain Rickey Thompson and first mate Leon Brice Johnson with murder, alien smuggling, and importation of narcotics, in connection with a December 2006 smuggling trip from the Bahamas to Jupiter Island, during which one person died.
According to the Indictment, between December 1, 2006 and December 30, 2006, defendants Rickey Thompson and Leon Brice Johnson arranged to transport 11 illegal aliens from Freeport, Bahamas, to Jupiter Island, aboard Thompson’s 35 foot vessel. The aliens paid Thompson fees ranging from $1,500 to $4,000 for the trip and were assured that Thompson would drop them off on the beach or in water no higher than their ankles. Thompson and Johnson and 11 illegal aliens left Freeport, Bahamas, on December 28, 2006 for Jupiter Island. Aboard the boat was a large, black duffle bag which was located next to Johnson during the trip. Several of the aliens detected the smell of marijuana emanating from the bag.
Thompson drove the boat without lights to avoid detection and made frequent stops whenever he believed he saw or heard a Coast Guard vessel. At approximately 9:00 pm, when the vessel was in deep, rough waters off the shore of Jupiter Island, Thompson stopped the boat and ordered the aliens to jump. Several of the aliens complied with the order and jumped; however, others who could not swim, including Nigel Warren, a Jamaican national, remained on the boat. Thompson then pulled out a gun and ordered the remaining aliens off the boat. The aliens jumped over and attempted to swim to shore. All made it to shore except Mr. Warren who drowned.
Law enforcement officers responding to the beach area where the aliens landed found Thompson’s boat grounded on the rocks. The lifeless body of Nigel Warren was found near the grounded vessel. Also found near the boat was a black duffle bag containing marijuana and cocaine.
Both Thompson and Johnson are facing a maximum statuary sentence of death or life imprisonment on the charges.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Martin County Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, U.S. Border Patrol, Jupiter Island Police Department, and Tequesta Police Department for their investigation of this matter. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Adrienne Rabinowitz and Ellen Cohen.
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.