Second Haitian Charged In Boat Tragedy, Migrants left from Bimini


Boat CapsizedA survivor is rescued from the May incident.

MIAMI, FL: A second Haitian national has been charged with the deadly smuggling death last month.

Jean Morange Nelson, 32, was charged on Tuesday in connection with the failed migrant smuggling operation that resulted in the deaths of ten Haitian nationals on May 13, 2009.

Specifically, Nelson was charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy and alien smuggling, which resulted in the death of various migrants, in violation of U.S. laws.

Already charged on May 18, 2009 is Jimmy Metellus, 33, a Haitian citizen, on the same charges.

On May 29, 2009, U.S. ICE agents arrested Harold Anglin, a Jamaican citizen, on charges of illegal re-entry into the U.S. after deportation.

Metellus and Nelson were allegedly two of the captains of the migrant smuggling vessel that sank off the Palm Beach county coast during the morning of May 13, 2009.

The complaint alleges that Nelson, Metellus and two other captains left the Bahamas on May 9, 2009, on a boat with Haitian migrants bound for the U.S. The boat began to have mechanical problems and was adrift for three days. Associates of the smugglers arranged for fuel to be delivered to the boat, and guided it to a house in Bimini, Bahamas.

In Bimini, the migrants were allegedly taken off the vessel while the boat was repaired. The next night, the migrants, including Anglin, were reloaded on the boat, and the boat departed for the U.S. A Good Samaritan reported to the U.S. Coast Guard seeing people in the water approximately 16 miles east of Palm Beach County, FL, in the early morning hours of May 13, 2009.

After a massive search and rescue operation conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard, sixteen survivors, including Metellus and Nelson, and ten deceased have been identified as having been on the boat. The ten deceased migrants include two adult males, six adult females, one infant, and one unborn viable fetus. None of the survivors had visas or other travel documentation for admission into the U.S., nor were any such documents found in the nearby waters.

Nelson had his initial appearance in court on Tuesday in West Palm Beach, FL, before U.S. Magistrate Judge James M. Hopkins. His detention hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 15.  Metellus` next scheduled court date is an arraignment on July 1, 2009. Anglin is currently scheduled to be arraigned on June 15, 2009.

If convicted, the maximum penalty is up to twenty years` imprisonment; and a possible sentence of death.

Meanwhile, in a related story, Jovel Dominguez-Hernandez, 28, of Hialeah, FL, was sentenced on June 8 by U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth A. Marra to 36 months in prison, to be followed by 24 months of supervised release, on charges of human smuggling.

According to documents filed with the Court, at approximately 10 P.M. on January 26, 2009, a Palm Beach Sherriff`s Department  Marine Unit spotted a vessel traveling without navigation lights in the area of Boynton Beach Inlet.

As the deputies attempted to catch up with the vessel, the vessel turned and ran aground. Numerous individuals and the captain bailed from the vessel. A subsequent search of the area led to the recovery of 7 Haitian migrants and 1 migrant from Sierra Leone. Jovel Dominguez-Hernandez, the captain of the vessel, was located, arrested and charged for smuggling migrants from the Bahamas to the United States. He later admitted that he smuggled the migrants for $3,000.