By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
A 32-year-old Bahamian man has been sentenced to 60 months in a Florida prison following his second conviction for human smuggling.
Detric Demetris Butler was convicted on two charges – one count of transporting undocumented migrants into the United States and one count of failure to heave to a vessel. He was sentenced on February 5, according to a Department of Justice Southern District of Florida press release.
According to court documents, in the early hours of September 8, 2015, Butler was at the wheel of a boat from The Bahamas four miles off the Florida coast, opposite St Lucie County.
Upon approach by a US Coast Guard cutter vessel, Butler attempted to flee and evade the intercepting US vessel. After he ignored hailing and a warning shot fired across the bow, the Coast Guard stopped Butler’s vessel with a shotgun blast into the engine of his boat.
Twenty other passengers were on board Butler’s boat – all undocumented migrants from Haiti and The Bahamas, including two unaccompanied minors.
Butler was previously convicted of migrant smuggling in 2013 and had been sentenced to three years in prison.
In 2014, another Bahamian man was convicted of human smuggling from this country to South Florida and sentenced to 14 years in prison. His crime resulted in the death of four Haitian women in 2013 when the boat capsized.
He was smoking crack-cocaine and drinking rum at the time of the incident, according to US District Court documents.
Naaman Davis, 53, in May 2014, pleaded guilty in US federal court to one count of encouraging and inducing undocumented migrants to enter the US resulting in death. He also pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and assisting an aggravated felon to enter the US.
Davis was hired to captain a 24-foot motorboat carrying illegal migrants from Bimini to South Florida in October 2013. The boat left Bimini on October 15 with 15 people from the Bahamas, Haiti and Jamaica on board. None was permitted to enter the US.
Court documents reveal that Davis had drunk rum from a bottle before the boat left Bimini and smoked crack-cocaine during one of the several times the vessel stalled en route.
In the early hours of October 16, the boat began to take on water.
Someone on board, who was not identified in the court documents, contacted authorities at 1.20am to report that the vessel was in distress.
In the 911 call for help the person confirmed that the boat was sinking and in the background there were screams and weeping. When asked, the caller said he did not know the boat’s location. The US Coast Guard was then contacted by Miami-Dade dispatch.
It took the US Coast Guard approximately 40 minutes to find the boat 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 four women drowned as they were trapped underneath the boat.