Human trafficker sentenced to 15 months, boat seized

POSTED: 11/15/12 1:11 PM

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance sentenced Cobert Mc Elroy Jeffrey to 15 months imprisonment on human trafficking charges yesterday. Judge Tamara Tijhuis also confiscated the defendant’s fishing vessel Lady Gina. The verdict is well below the demand by prosecutor Tineke Kamps, who demanded 2 years imprisonment at the trial on October 24. The prosecutor also announced a procedure to seize assets from the defendant that she considers the fruit of his criminal activities.

On July 17 the Coast Guard intercepted the Lady Gina with nine Cubans and a Dominicano on board. The small vessel was on its way from Jeffrey’s home port Antigua to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, but ended up in St. Maarten’s coastal waters.

Jeffrey told the court that somebody had put something in his drink, and that he had gotten drunk and fallen asleep. When he woke up the Coast Guard was upon him. He claimed to have had no idea where he was, due to the overcast skies and the rough seas.

Judge Tamara Tijhuis considers proven that Jeffrey took his passengers to St. Maarten knowing that they did not have valid papers.

“Human trafficking is a crime that thwarts the government policy for illegal residence of St. Maarten and other countries and affects the international legal order. Cries like this abuse the vulnerable position of people and exploit them for personal financial gain,” Judge Tijhuis ruled.

 

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