LAWFUEL – Legal News Network – 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 a Key West grand jury today returned a sixty-eight (68) count Indictment against defendants Rolando Gonzalez-Delgado, Henrich Castillo-Diaz, and Amil Gonzalez-Rodriguez. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, July 24, 2006, before Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow in Key West federal court.
Today’s Indictment charges the three men with involuntary manslaughter, by operating a vessel in a grossly negligent manner and knowing that their conduct was a threat to the lives of others and with wanton and reckless disregard for human life (Count 1, 18 U.S.C. §1112), conspiracy to encourage and induce alien smuggling, with death resulting (Count 2, 8 U.S.C. §§ 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) and 1324(a)(1)(B)(iv)), substantive counts of encouraging and inducing alien smuggling, with death resulting (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)92)(B)(ii) and 371), substantive counts of alien smuggling for profit (Counts 35 – 65, 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(2)(B)(iv)), and failure to heave to (Count 67, 18 U.S.C. § 2237(a)(1)). Additionally, defendants Castillo-Diaz and Gonzalez-Delgado were charged with unauthorized entry into Cuban territorial seas (Count 66, 50 U.S.C. § 192 and 33 C.F.R. §§107.215(a) and 107.230). Defendant Amil Gonzalez-Rodriguez was individually charged with providing materially false information to the Coast Guard team that boarded the migrant vessel (Count 68, 18 U.S.C. § 2237(a)(2)(B)). The statutory maximum term of imprisonment for the most serious of these charges is a term of life.
This Indictment is the result of the government’s continuing 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. This Wednesday, the remaining migrants were landed pursuant to material witness
warrants requested by the United States, following a determination that, under the unique circumstances of this specific criminal matter, their presence furthered the United States’ interest in a complete investigation and vigorous prosecution of this incident.
United States Attorney Acosta stated, “Today’s Indictment, including charges of manslaughter and alien smuggling for profit with death resulting, reflect our resolve to use all prosecutorial tools at our disposal to put an end to human smuggling. Smugglers are not humanitarians, they are profiteers. For a bit of money, smugglers treat migrants like human cargo, with blatant disregard for individual life and safety. In this case, a woman died. Smuggling must stop. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to investigate this, and future incidents, fully to ensure that all individuals associated with human smuggling operations are brought to justice.”
“Anay Machado-Gonzalez died at the hands of smugglers. Today’s indictment illustrates our resolve to stop migrant smuggling and to prosecute the criminals engaged in this reckless and illegal activity,” said Captain Jim Watson, Chief of Staff of the Seventh Coast Guard District. “There has been no change in our enforcement of U.S. immigration policy. The decision to allow these 28 Cuban migrants to stay in the United States was made solely in the interest of justice. We will continue to aggressively protect our borders and prosecute those who engage in illegal attempts to enter our country.”
“Tragically another life has been taken by smugglers whose only goal is to profit at the expense of others,” said Jesus Torres, Special Agent in Charge for ICE investigations in Miami. “We will continue working tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who engage in these illegal and dangerous smuggling schemes 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 Barbara Martinez 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 www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.