Captain faces 30 months for human smuggling attempt

POSTED: 09/23/11 1:07 PM

St. Maarten – Thirty months behind bars or freedom and a return to his native Tortola. Those are the options for Alazia Anthony B., a 28-year-old captain who stood accused of an attempt to assist in smuggling four Brazilians via St. Maarten and Tortola to Puerto Rico.
B. was sailing a boat from Antigua to Tortola for a company called Sunsail on May 29 when he encountered engine trouble near St. Maarten. He docked in Bobby’s Marina together with a second boat captained by his father who is, according to the defendant, a certified mechanic.
He did not clear with Customs because, he claimed in court, this is left to the captain’s discretion if he intends to stay in port for less than 24 hours. But when he left port on May 31, he took four Brazilians on board at the request of a man who was identified in court only as Cajun.
Prosecutor mr. .L.P. Ridderbeks suggested that the boat did not have engine trouble at all and that the defendant had planned to come to St. Maarten all the time. When he left St. Maarten for the trip to Tortola, the vessel was intercepted by the Coast Guard.
“When they asked you how many people were on board you said two,” the prosecutor remarked.
When the Coast Guard boarded the sailing boat, officers discovered the four Brazilians. They were taken into custody and interrogated, and later put on a plane back home.
“The Brazilians traveled via Panama to St. Maarten and from there to Tortola. Their final destination was the United States, or Puerto Rico.”

The prosecutor asked the court to acquit a second defendant who was aboard the boat, Shawn Kimbo K., because he had had no knowledge of the plans with the Brazilians. But she considered the explanations B. gave in court a web of lies. She demanded 30 months imprisonment.
B.’s attorney mr. Bommel asked the court to exclude statements made by the Brazilians from evidence, because she had not had the opportunity to verify their accuracy.
“They were already put on a plane back to Brazil.”
mr. Bommel contested the charges against her client.
“The Brazilians were legally in St. Maarten. They do not need visa, and they do not need visa for Tortola either. Human smuggling requires that their transit from St. Maarten to Tortola is illegal and that is not the case. My client had no idea that they intended to travel on to Puerto Rico.”
mr. Ridderbeks however, maintained that the lack of visa requirements does not make the Brazilians’ stay in St. Maarten or Tortola legal.
“And their attempt to seek admission to United States territory is unlawful.”
Judge Mr. M. Keppels will pronounce her ruling on October 5; she acquitted B.’s co-defendant Shawn Kimbo K.

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