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Dominican Alien Smugglers Plead Guilty to Smuggling 36 Individuals

Written by CBP

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January 3, 2009
Right Side News Reports

San Juan, Puerto Rico - Three Dominican nationals plead guilty recently to charges related to their participation in a foiled attempt to smuggle 36 illegal aliens on board a sailboat. The defendants Julian Jerónimo Calderón, Angel Miguel Tejeda-Melendez and Maikin Ernesto Tejeda-Perez admitted that they were the co-captains of a sailboat, and that they knowingly attempted to bring undocumented aliens from the Dominican Republic to the United States for their personal monetary profit.

On October 22, 2008, a 37-foot white Benetau sailboat was intercepted one mile off the southern coast of the island by the Puerto Rico Police Department's Marine Operations (FURA, for its Spanish acronym). Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents arrested the large group of illegal aliens, including the defendants, for biometric identification and processing.

While in custody of the Ramey Station Border Patrol, each defendant stated that they were approached by an individual named "Tony" in the Dominican Republic who paid them to operate and guide the boat en route to Puerto Rico. The defendants were in possession of $12,000.

The Ramey Sector Border Patrol Prosecutions unit presented a case against the three identified co-captains to the U.S. Attorney's Office for formal prosecution and were subsequently indicted.

Each of the three defendants is facing a 10-year sentence as well as a fine of $250,000.

Formal sentencing is scheduled for March 20, at the United States District Court, Judicial District of Puerto Rico.

The apprehension and subsequent prosecution of these individuals exemplifies the success of the partnership between the US Attorney's Office, FURA and the Ramey Border Patrol Sector, stemming from the Caribbean Border Interagency Group. Since the inception of the CBIG and its robust prosecution program in 2006, illegal migrant flow through the Mona Passage has decreased 76 percent.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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