Mastermind of Cuban Smuggling Organization Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and Rear Admiral John H. Korn, Commander, 7th Coast Guard District (USCG), announce that Antonio Comin, 56, of Miami-Dade County, was sentenced to 20 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez for one count of conspiracy, 50 counts of encouraging and inducing aliens to enter the United States, 47 counts of alien smuggling for private financial gain, and one count of bringing an aggravated felon into the United States.
The evidence at trial revealed that Comin was the mastermind of an extensive organization that conspired to smuggle Cuban nationals into the United States for profit. In January 2012, the organization successfully landed 29 Cuban nationals on Big Munson Island in the Florida Keys following a high speed chase with the United States Coast Guard, and a conscious decision by the smugglers to run their vessel aground instead of being captured at sea. Of the 29 Cuban nationals landed that day, one, Rogelio Martin-Hernandez, had been previously deported back to Cuba after serving 264 months for cocaine trafficking. In September 2012, another smuggling venture was attempted; however, the vessel used ran out of gas near Cay Sal Bank, Bahamas. An attempt by Comin and his organization to save that trip was thwarted when a second vessel, carrying additional gas, broke down less than two miles from the smuggling vessel. The occupants of both vessels, including four co-defendants of Comin and 21 Cuban nationals, were rescued by the United States Coast Guard Cutter Oak.
Seven co-defendants in the instant case, all from Miami-Dade County, have thus far been sentenced for their participation in these events:
Daniel Rochela, 42, was sentenced to 100 months in prison;
Arial Arias, 43, and Oylver Aguilar, 40, were sentenced to 60 months in prison;
Severo Tapanes, 42, was sentenced to 40 months in prison;
Rogelio Martin-Hernandez, 73, and Alexander Aznay-Gonzalez, 23, were sentenced to 24 months in prison;
Oreste Chavez Torres, 23, was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
An eighth co-defendant, Jose Valdes Diaz, 37, will be sentenced on July 17th in Miami.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI and the USCG. This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Blackburn and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Raich.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.