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BVI Alien Smuggler Who Jumped In Water to Avoid Capture Pleads Guilty


CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A 22-year-old British Virgin Islands national pleaded guilty today in federal court in St. Thomas to smuggling illegal aliens into the territory.

Ashemba Frett of Road Town, Tortola pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Curtis Gomez in U.S. District Court on Veterans Drive to “encouraging and inducing aliens to illegally enter the United States,” according to U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe.

According to the plea agreement, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) conducted a safety stop on a vessel in Jersey Bay, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The vessel was operated by an unidentified individual, Sharpe said.

The Coast Guard saw Frett jump into the water and retrieved him. A Haitian national and a national from the Dominican Republic were aboard the vessel.

Frett admitted that the Dominican Republic national paid him $700 to travel to St. Thomas from Tortola and that Frett knew that he did not possess proper documents to lawfully enter the United States.

Frett faces a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has been set for July 7, 2016.

Judge Gomez continued Frett on pre-trial release pending sentencing.

The case was investigated by the USSG, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Air and Marine (AMO), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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