Human smugglers have to pay

POSTED: 12/20/13 12:09 PM

St. Maarten – Four human smugglers who were sentenced in 2011 to prison sentences from 36 months to 5 years and 10 months are now also feeling the financial consequences of their crimes. The Court in first Instance sentenced the four men to pay $86,232 – 15 percent below the more than $100,000 the prosecution demanded at the court hearing in September.

Jean Journel Cobite, who was sentenced for the smuggling activities to 5 years and 10 months imprisonment, had to pay the state the most – $24,980. The court gave co-defendant Louis Saint Marc a 25 percent discount because he is 65 and does not have any source of income. Still, Saint Marc will somehow have to come up with $20,514. The 67-year old cab driver Erold Montgomery Bolan received a bill for $22,838; the damages for Pierre Josias Neus are $17,900.

The defendants were all involved in several human smuggling transports in 2010. Among these transports was a trip with the fishing vessel Jesus La on December 5, 2010; it carried 30 illegals, stemming from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Dominica and Zimbabwe. The boat sank in the British Virgin Islands and eight of the passengers drowned.

Attorney Shaira Bommel told the court in September that the prosecution’s demand violates the equality principle, because another suspect, Louis Bernard, was not included in the demand to give back the illicit profits from the human smuggling activities. The court rejected the argument, saying that Bernard is included in the number of defendants that was used to calculate the profit for each individual smuggler. “This makes the financial profits per defendant are lower, so the others do not suffer negative consequences from this,” the court ruled.

The court calculated the total profits for the smugglers at $130,651.74, after deducting the costs the criminals had to make to provide the transports. This amount was divided equally over seven suspects. The amount each defendant has to pay differs because they all made different costs. Three defendants were not included in the procedure to seize assets.

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