Smugglers Sentenced to 573 Months in Prison

MIAMI — A U.S. District Court judge sentenced 14 convicted migrant smugglers to nearly 50 years imprisonment and 37 years supervised release during proceedings held Tuesday and Wednesday at Miami and Key West, Fla., courthouses.

On one of the ill-fated smuggling ventures, a Cuban migrant suffered a severe head injury while onboard the smuggling boat and later died. In another case, a smuggling boat attempted to ram a Coast Guard law enforcement vessel and a Coast Guard crewmember was struck in the head by a 15-gallon gas can thrown by a smuggler.

“These sentences should send a strong message to would-be criminals who might attempt to flee law enforcement and recklessly endanger Coast Guard personnel on the high seas,” said Capt. Dean Lee, Coast Guard Seventh District chief of staff. “The tragic loss of life and blatant disregard for the safety of migrants aboard smuggling vessels continues to plague South Florida’s Cuban community and will continue until community members stop hiring these ruthless criminals.”

On November 15, Olierki Fabelo-Carbonell and Dunieskis Rodriguez Pinero led Coast Guard Cutter Tornado crewmembers on a 90-minute chase while attempting to smuggle Cuban migrants into the U.S. One Cuban migrant suffered a severe head injury that left him in a coma. After five months in the coma, he died in April at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. For their roles in these crimes, Fabelo-Carbonell and Rodriguez Pinero were each sentenced to 120 months imprisonment, three years supervised release and a special assessment of $200.

In another case, Manuel Friere was found guilty April 2 on charges of assault on a Coast Guard boarding officer and attempting to ram a law-enforcement vessel. Friere was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment, three years supervised release and a special assessment of $200. A co-defendant involved in the case pled guilty to the same charges in February and was sentenced to 27 months imprisonment and three years supervised release. Friere and the co-defendant led the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Key Biscayne on a 2-hour chase June 27, 2007. During the chase, Friere attempted several times to ram the Key Biscayne and the co-defendant shielded the engines with his body to prevent disabling fire. Additionally, Friere threw a 15-gallon gas can at a boarding team member, striking the officer in the head.

The sentences, guilty pleas and convictions all stem from the outstanding cooperation and partnership in law-enforcement operations and investigations conducted by the Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida.

The cutter Tornado is a 179-foot patrol boat homeported in Pascagoula, Miss.
The cutter Key Biscayne is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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