Absent Cuban gets 2 years for human smugglingPOSTED: 08/11/11 11:52 AM
St. Maarten – Cuban Maikel Duarte-Torres is safely back in Tampa, Florida, and he is not likely to return to St. Maarten anytime soon. Yesterday the Court in First Instance sentenced him to 2 years imprisonment for his role in a human smuggling ring that fell apart on November 14 of last year.
The sentencing was originally scheduled for March 23, after Duarte-Torres had appeared in court for his trial on March 2, but it was postponed because of apparent mistakes in a police report from the Virgin Islands. Yesterday prosecution, defense, and judge concluded that this police report had no bearing on Duarte-Torres’ case.
In March, the 29-year-old defendant admitted to the court that he had traveled to St. Maarten at the request of a friend to pay $2, 000 to cab driver Erold Montgomery Bolan for the transport of two Cuban girls from St. Maarten to St. John’s in the US Virgin Islands.
But the court ruled yesterday that there was more to Duarte-Torres than met the eye. Judge mr. Keppels said that he was one of the organizers of a transport that consisted of ten Cubans, who had each paid $12, 500 for sailing on the Braveheart from St. Lucia via St. Maarten to St. John’s.
Judge Keppels said that there is proof Duarte-Torres maintained contact with Erold Bolan and with Adele, aka the Cuban Lady, in St. Lucia to organize the transport.
Prosecutor mr. M.L.P. Ridderbeks demanded 42 months against Duarte-Torres in March. Due to the shortage of cell capacity, the defendant was released two days after his trial, and he has left the island.