By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
A BAHAMIAN boat captain illegally entered the United States and tried to smuggle a group of people into the country.
Naaman Davis, who was previously deported from America in March, might have escaped US authorities had his boat not capsized on Wednesday morning.
Four women of the 15 people on board the 25-foot boat drowned. Six of the 11 survivors were arrested.
The motorboat capsized after leaving the Bahamas.
Crewman George Lewis, 37, of Jamaica faces a charge of attempted smuggling of the migrants. Lewis and Davis were identified as the smugglers but no charges were immediately filed against Davis, a US Department of Homeland Security criminal complaint said.
According to a US District Court affidavit in which US Immigration and Customs Special Agent William Viteri recalls the events of the drowning, the group which contained nationals from Jamaica, the Bahamas and Haiti had no permission to enter the US.
When the boat began to take on water, someone on board, who has not been identified in the documents, contacted authorities at 1.20am to report that the vessel was in distress. The 911 call for help, has been published by several new stations. The caller confirms that the boat was sinking and in the background there were screams and weeping. When asked he said he did not know the boat’s location, as recorded in the call:
Dispatcher: “Miami-Dade Police and Fire. Where is the emergency?”
Caller: “Yes, we’re 25 miles out from South Beach. We need a rescue out here bad.”
Dispatcher: “Stay with me on the line. Do not hang up. I’m trying to get a hit on you. What’s going on, sir?”
Caller: “Ma’am, we’re 25 miles. The boat is sinking.”
Dispatcher: “What kind of boat are you on? Sir? Hello?”
The line then disconnects.
The US Coast Guard was then contacted by Miami-Dade dispatch. The operator said: “I received a 911 call from a cell-phone, advised 25 miles out from South Beach, and that the boat was sinking, didn’t answer any questions as far as what kind of vessel he was on.”
It took the US Coast Guard around 40 minutes to find the boat just seven miles east of Miami where it was discovered that not only were people on top of the capsized vessel, but others were in the water.
The survivors were then taken into Federal custody, said Viteri, and processed using biometrics (identification by their characteristics or traits).
When Davis was brought ashore, he waived his right to remain silent and told authorities he was ‘not in good standing’ with US immigration officials.
A criminal complaint was later filed in the district court which said Davis violated US law by ‘knowingly and unlawfully entering and attempting to enter the United States, having previously been deported and removed’ without the permission of the relevant authorities.
On Thursday six people including Davis and his crew were arrested. It is not clear if they will be charged for the deaths.
The others arrested, on charges of entering the United States illegally after being deported, were Sean Gaynor, 27, Kenard Hagigal, 34, Matthew Williams, 30, and Everton Jones, 50.