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‘I Saw Adriana In Safe House’: Witness Swears Missing Cuban Woman Was Held By Immigration Officers

Adriana Maria Caro

Adriana Maria Caro

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

A CAMEROON native who was released from the Carmichael Road Detention Centre over two months ago claimed she saw missing Cuban woman Adriana Caro at the Department of Immigration’s safe house in early April.

She claimed she was told by Mrs Caro to contact her relatives to inform them of her whereabouts.

Mrs Caro, 22, was said to have been on board a Cuban vessel that capsized in Bahamian waters in early March that was later intercepted by Cuban, Bahamian, Turks Island and US Coast Guard officials the same month.

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Adriana Maria Caro was said to have been on board a Cuban vessel that capsized in Bahamian waters in early March.

Local immigration officials said some 15 to 20 people died in the incident, believing Mrs Caro to be one of the victims.

However, in a witness statement filed on June 9, Violet Werengie claimed she met Mrs Caro sometime in early April while being held at the safe house, describing her as a beautiful Cuban woman “of light complexion” with “prominent dimples”.

“She stood out to me because at the time she was the only female in the safe house that did not have a child or children,” said Ms Werengie  in her affidavit filed in support of a habeas corpus application filed by attorneys representing Mrs Caro.

The attorneys also represented Ms Werengie in an unrelated immigration matter.

“I spoke to Adrianna a few times because she was able to understand English very well and even spoke a little English so we were able to communicate. Adrianna told me about the accident on a boat and that her husband was a United States resident. She said she has been asking to speak with her husband and the officers keep denying her calls to her husband and family in the USA.”

Ms Werengie said upon leaving the safe house on April 7, Mrs Caro asked her to contact her husband and later tried to give her his phone number on a piece of paper.

However, she claimed immigration officers intervened and “barred” the Cuban woman from handing out the information.

“The immigration officers move people around so frequently. I have no idea where she is now or if she has been deported, but I am absolutely certain that I left her in the safe house on the 7th of April 2021,” the affidavit says.

“While I was in custody of the Department of Immigration, I observed that they would hide some of the detainees and many of us complained about not being able to speak with our family or retain lawyers to assist us.”

In an affidavit filed earlier this month, Officer in Charge of the CRDC Peter Joseph claimed Mrs Caro was never at the facility, adding he believed she was one of several passengers who died aboard the ill-fated vessel.

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THE CARMICHAEL Road Detention Centre. (File photo)

Meanwhile, Immigration Minister Elsworth Johnson said he was informed of the same.

However, in a second affidavit, attorney Paul Whitfield said he believed Mrs Caro was being held “incommunicado” at the Detention Centre, despite immigration officials adamantly denying the matter.

Mr Whitfield also contended that the affidavit filed by Mr Joseph was “vague”, “incomplete” and “inaccurate”.

“… There is no factual basis in the Peter Joseph affidavit to permit Mr Joseph to speculate that the applicant was one of the persons who perished at sea during the alleged boating incident,” Mr Whitfield’s affidavit stated.

Mr Whitfield also pointed to the fact that Mr Joseph’s filing lacked pertinent information such as the number of people aboard the vessel, the number of passengers rescued, and the names and age of the victims treated at Princess Margaret hospital among other things.

The attorney then went on to refer to Mr Joseph’s response to his conversation with another immigration official, who told him in March that Mrs Caro was being held at the facility, but later backtracked on the statement.

Mr Joseph claimed Mrs Caro was mistakenly identified as another female detainee by the immigration officer, who he said was “distracted” at the time.

However, to this, Mr Whitfield said: “At no time whatsoever and in no manner whatsoever did Ms Johnson indicate to me that she had been ‘distracted’ by some other matter that she was dealing with at the material time, leading to her giving me erroneous information.

“She claimed that the other woman being taken to court that morning was a Peruvian, by a ‘similar name’ not a Venezuelan. Mr Joseph was not present during any of the conversations I had with Ms Johnson and is therefore unable to speak directly to the same,” the affidavit continued.

Last month, Justice Bernard Turner granted the attorneys representing Mrs Caro leave to issue a writ of habeas corpus against Immigration Minister Elsworth Johnson, Immigration Director Clarence Russell and Mr Joseph, who are the respondents in the matter.

The hearing continued yesterday, but was adjourned after Justice Turner gave the attorneys representing the respondents additional time to file a return and affidavit for Mr Russell in relation to Mrs Caro’s case.

The matter is expected to continue on July 21 at 10 am.

Comments

Cobalt 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Corruption reigns supreme in the Bahamas! I have no doubt that Immigration officers here in the Bahamas are an integral part of the human trafficking ring operating in this region.

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Sickened 6 months, 3 weeks ago

What the hell is going on at the Detention Centre? All fingers point to some seriously controversial practices. We definitely need some independent observers in there to do an audit. If that place happens to burn down I'm sure we will never be able to provide the details of everyone that was inside at the time. VERY SCARY!!!!

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trueBahamian 6 months, 3 weeks ago

This story is going in circles. Can we have an independent group get a list of detainees at all Immigration sites (safe houses, detention center, etc.) and check the persons there against this list? There also should be an investigation done on the department. There are too many issues popping up.

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TimesUp 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Would none of the agencies involved in the rescue have completed a detailed incident report along with names, descriptions and details of those rescued and recovered along with witness testimonies of the survivors? I cant imagine the US coast guard would not do this.

Did the hospital not have records? Does the detention center not have inmate processing records?

I hope the Judge sees fit to order the Immigration department to produce more than an affidavit.

Seeing as there is no legal framework for the detention center and seeing that they have already been in violation of breaching numerous constitutional rights it would be good to see the judiciary take a strong stand on issues like this.

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C2B 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Bahamian immigration is a reflection of the society at large. So own it. A large number of Bahamians are anti foreigner, prone to corruption, lacking any sort of education, and sexist. That does not stop them from having very strong opinions and believing in fairy tales about religion. Barely employable, the customs officials are your representatives to the World.

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GodSpeed 6 months, 3 weeks ago

many migrants go missing when they go into Europe and America as well. maybe illegals should stay where they come from and leave us savages to ourselves.

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C2B 6 months, 3 weeks ago

You are the religious one not me. What does your scripture say about treating the meek and vulnerable? I don't think it refers to illegals anywhere.

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GodSpeed 6 months, 3 weeks ago

if you don't believe in the scripture why are you asking what it says? It's BS to you right? so don't worry about it. Last time I checked we don't live in a theocracy anyway.

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C2B 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I am wondering of YOU live by the words YOU believe. So my point of view is not relevant.

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lucaya 6 months, 3 weeks ago

What an educated idiot you are!

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C2B 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Versus an uneducated idiot like you? My pleasure. What high school did you drop out of?

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GodSpeed 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Oh no, somebody find the missing light skin. 😂 But seriously, these illegal invaders need to stay where they come from and things like this wouldn't happen. If I go on an illegal trek through foreign countries I would expect my body to be found somewhere face down in a ditch.

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DWW 6 months, 3 weeks ago

So you believe that people should NOT be treated with dignity and respect. Gotcha, what cushy job your MP gave you? I wish i lived in the perfect glass house you do.

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GodSpeed 6 months, 3 weeks ago

"So you believe that people should NOT be treated with dignity and respect."

How is your reading comprehension buddy? Where did I ever say that? But if you do want to be treated with dignity and respect, following the law would put you in a good position not to be exploited by those who would seek to do so.

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proudloudandfnm 6 months, 3 weeks ago

What god do you worship????

You are one evil sob...

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jamaicaproud 6 months, 3 weeks ago

You are indeed a casual fool. Not even a serious one. Dont you know that even people who are going about so called legal business also fall into accidents and misfortune. What type if brute are you. In case you dont know you religious buffoon, They have to pass thru your water to get to where they really wanna go. Also save your stupid anti Jamaican insults. I can tell you Kamaica is in a better position now.

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stislez 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I tell u boy 3rd world. Trust me these human rights violations is and has been crazy in the bahamas. If my mother or father was to go through any of these type situations with the immigration or police or defense force, i would cause havoc trust! Pipe bombs, pressure cooker bombs easy to make, gun powder is easy to find, government places, police stations, defense force base aint build or ready for a major explosion. The internet is my best friend. Sometimes innocent have to go with the guilty. I wanna put fear in their children children. Picture the middle east. My home is a fire place where souls reside and anyone is invited..................................The bahamas is so lucky we don't have people who willing to go to those extremes. It seems the people in power believe only THEM have power.

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GodSpeed 6 months, 3 weeks ago

you better watch your mouth talking reckless on this internet, keep comments like this up and they may pay you a visit. Internet will be your worst enemy then.

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lucaya 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Hope they find you the quicker the better...

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GodSpeed 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Also are you some kind of illegal or the child of one? If so please do us a favor and leave immediately with your family. Go back where you came from, if you don't like it here then why stay?

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DWW 6 months, 3 weeks ago

If CRDC, RBDF and Immigration have nothing to hide, why are they acting like they are hiding something? I pray none of the people involved have young female family members who might have to endure what is possibly one of the most disgusting grievous acts. Sounds like a little SEX SLAVE BROTHEL is fully functional for pleasure of the immigration officers. IF IT is NOT TRUE, it should not be a problem to let outside observers in to inspect on a regular basis. The fact that there exists a "Safe House" clearly screams that there is a problem within the organization. Why does there seem to be a trend emerging? Who is getting protected here? The innocent or the guilty?

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hrysippus 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Any educated and thinking Bahamian will find this report very disturbing. The ignorant will make the usual expected bigoted comments.

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Bobsyeruncle 6 months, 3 weeks ago

If her husband and family are resident in the US, why was she on this boat? Something doesn't add up. unless her husband or family are illegal residents

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proudloudandfnm 6 months, 3 weeks ago

If this is true we have a major problem within immigration that needs to be investigated immediately. And if she is found then we have to see any and all immigration personnel charged, tried and if found guilty jailed for life....

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FrustratedBusinessman 6 months, 3 weeks ago

If someone is believed to be at the center, why don't they just go and look? The truth of this story is probably stranger than the fiction around it.

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Unfortunately that wont work. Its easy enough to move someone to evade detection and if they were never here its impossible to prove you didnt move them.

What's really needed is a proper review of historical records. The most accurate independent record right now is the coast guard vessel that picked the migrants up as indicated by @timesup. If Mrs Caro was that striking someone will remember her, either that or the logs will show her as one of the survivors. If she does not appear in the logs or if every female who was on the US coast guards log can be reliably identified as someone other than Mrs Caro, then she never arrived here

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