LAWFUEL – US Law News – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Rear Admiral David W. Kunkel, Commander 7th Coast Guard District, and Jesus Torres, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announce that defendant Amil Gonzalez-Rodriguez was convicted earlier today by a Key West jury following a trial. The defendant was convicted of conspiracy to smuggle aliens into the United States (Count 2, 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)), and providing false information to a federal law enforcement officer during the boarding of a vessel (Count 68, 18 U.S.C. § 2237(a)(2)(B)).
Gonzalez-Rodriguez was indicted in July 2006, along with co-defendants Rolando Gonzalez-Delgado and Henrich Castillo-Diaz in a 68-count Indictment that included charges of involuntary manslaughter. Although the jury acquitted Gonzalez-Rodriguez of the involuntary manslaughter charges, he faces up to 15 years in prison on the two counts of conviction. Co-defendants Gonzalez-Delgado and Castillo-Diaz pled guilty on October 3, 2006, to involuntary manslaughter (Count 1, 18 U.S.C. §1112); conspiracy to smuggle aliens into the United States resulting in death (Count 2, 8 U.S.C. §§ 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) and 1324(a)(1)(B)(iv)); substantive counts alien smuggling resulting in death (Counts 3-33, 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) and 1324(a)(1)(B)(iv)); conspiracy to smuggle aliens for profit (Count 34, 8 U.S.C. §§1324(a)(2)(B)(ii) and 371); substantive counts of alien smuggling for profit (Counts 35-65, 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(2)(B)(iv)); unauthorized entry into Cuban territorial seas (Count 66, 50 U.S.C. § 192 and 33 C.F.R. §§107.215(a) and 107.230); and failure to heave to their vessel (Count 67, 18 U.S.C. § 2237(a)(1)). These two defendants face up to life in prison.
Sentencing has been scheduled for January 8, 2007, at 11:30 a.m. in Key West before United States District Judge K. Michael Moore.
These convictions were the result of the government’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding the ill-fated July 8, 2006, migrant smuggling operation that resulted in the death of a young migrant woman. 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. A young migrant woman sustained severe injuries during the smugglers’ attempt to flee the Coast Guard, and subsequently died. Two additional migrants were landed because they needed medical attention. Subsequently, the remaining migrants were landed pursuant to material witness warrants requested by the United States.
United States Attorney Acosta stated, “Today’s conviction, coupled with the co-defendant’s earlier pleas to charges that included manslaughter and alien smuggling for profit, are the fruit of our resolve to end human smuggling. We will continue to investigate and aggressively prosecute incidents like this to ensure that all individuals associated with human smuggling are brought to justice.”
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the United States Cost Guard, ICE, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Scott Ray and Jeffrey Tsai and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Raich.
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/ .