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Culebra Boat Captain Gets Six Months In Prison, Loses His Boat For Smuggling Illegal Aliens

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A Puerto Rican boat captain was sentenced to a half year in prison and will lose his boat after he knowingly transporting illegal aliens for “commercial advantage or private financial gain,” authorities said.

Arturo Serrano-Arizmendi, 27, of Culebra, Puerto Rico, was sentenced Thursday after being convicted of knowingly transporting illegal aliens for commercial advantage or private financial gain, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez sentenced Arizmendi to six months in prison followed by three years supervised release, and ordered Arizmendi to pay a special assessment of $100. Gomez also ordered Arizmendi to forfeit $500 and a 1980 22-foot Maco boat.

According to court documents, on June 7, 2019, Arizmendi captained his Maco boat from St. Thomas in the direction of Culebra with no navigational lights. On board his vessel were five people that he knew were illegal aliens: four from Brazil and one from the Dominican Republic.

A Customs and Border Patrol marine unit intercepted the vessel and returned it to St. Thomas where Arizmendi and the illegal aliens were taken into custody by Homeland Security Investigations.

When he was questioned, Arizmendi admitted that he received $100 per person to transport them to Culebra.

Culebra island is located about 17 miles off the east coast of Puerto Rico.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Everard Potter.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-vi/pr/culebra-puerto-rico-captain-sentenced-knowingly-transporting-illegal-aliens

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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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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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