A Trinidadian national was among seven persons smuggled into Fort Lauderdale on June 30, Homeland Security officials revealed last Friday.
And a Bahamian national has been charged with smuggling the seven persons. The Trinidadian was also charged with illegally entering the United States.
The Bahamian boat captain previously convicted for smuggling people into the United States, was captured while bringing seven people ashore at a Fort Lauderdale marina, Homeland Security Investigations said in a court document.
Raymond Abdul Pritchard, 41, agreed to bring the group to the US to erase a relative’s US $17,000 debt to drug traffickers in the Bahamas, a federal criminal complaint said.
On June 30, a Fort Lauderdale marine police officer noticed a 27-foot Pursuit fishing boat coming from the ocean and riding unusually low in the Intra-coastal Waterway as it passed beneath the 17th Street Causeway bridge.
The captain appeared to be having trouble steering the vessel and when the officer tried to get it to pull over, it sped into The Sails Marina, according to a criminal complaint.
Eight people who had been aboard ran away. Police caught five of them. Pritchard and another person from the boat were taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries before they joined the others in custody at a U.S. Border Patrol station in Dania Beach.
Three of the smuggled party have not been found, the complaint said. Documents name only Pritchard; Andy Jackson Mitchell, 51 of Trinidad; Devon Rankin, 48, and Kelvin Everett Esteen, 66, both of Jamaica.
Their arrival in Fort Lauderdale brought a massive law enforcement response to the marina, at 2150 SE 17th St. Causeway and to the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six resort that is just north, across the causeway.
Two helicopters joined the search as K-9 officers, Fort Lauderdale police officers, ambulances from the city’s fire department, and heavily armed personnel from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Border Patrol used the east side of the hotel property as a base of operations.
In Oct. 2015, Pritchard was removed from the US and sent back to the Bahamas after he was convicted in federal court in South Florida of alien smuggling.