News and Press Releases

Twelve Men Charged with Alien Smuggling in the Florida Keys

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2013

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Rear Admiral John H. Korn, Commander, 7th Coast Guard District, and Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, announce the indictment of twelve defendants for their alleged participation in the smuggling of Cubans to the United States.

Two indictments, with a combined 126 counts, charge the defendants with conspiracy to encourage and induce aliens to enter the United States, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324(a)(1)(A)(v)(I); encouraging and inducing aliens to enter the United States, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv); alien smuggling for private financial gain, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324(a)(2)(B)(ii); bringing an aggravated felon into the United States, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1327; and illegal reentry into the United States by an aggravated felon, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1326(a) and (b)(2). The indictments charge the following twelve individuals:

Antonio Comin, 56, of Miami-Dade County
Arial Arias, 42, of Miami-Dade County
Severo Tapanes, 41, of Miami-Dade County
Jose Valdes Diaz, 37, of Miami-Dade County
Oreste Chavez Torres, 22, of Miami-Dade County
Alexander Aznay-Gonzalez, 23, of Miami-Dade County
Oylver Aguilar, 40 of Miami-Dade County
Juan Blanco, 20 of Miami Dade County
Rogelio Martin-Hernandez, 73, of Miami-Dade County
Eduardo Rodriguez, 42 of Miami-Dade County
Daniel Rochela, 42 of Monroe County
Mario Valdez, 53, of Monroe County

According to the indictments, the defendants are alleged to have engaged in three separate ventures to smuggle a total of sixty-nine aliens. The indictments further allege that the smuggling of fifty of those aliens was for profit. Four defendants remain at large. The other defendants had their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow in Key West, Florida.

If convicted, defendants Tapanes, Martin-Hernandez, and Rodriguez are facing a maximum possible sentence of twenty years in prison; defendants Arias, Valdes Diaz, Chavez Torres, Aznay-Gonzalez, Aguilar, and Blanco are facing a sentence of fifteen years in prison; and defendants Rochela and Valdez are facing a possible maximum sentence of ten years in prison. Defendant Comin is charged with 102 counts, including fifty counts of alien smuggling for profit, and could face a higher sentence.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI and the U.S. Coast Guard. This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Blackburn.

An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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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.

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