Smuggler Pleads Guilty To Causing Deadly Tragedy At Sea
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 today the guilty plea of Naaman Davis, 53, of the Bahamas, to one count of encouraging and inducing aliens to enter the United States resulting in death, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv), and one count of aiding and assisting an aggravated felon to enter the United States, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1327.
According to the stipulated statement of facts filed with the Court, the defendant drove a migrant smuggling vessel from Bimini, Bahamas to South Florida on the evening of October 15, 2013. Prior to leaving the Bahamas, the defendant consumed some quantity of rum. The vessel stalled several times throughout the voyage, and the defendant smoked crack-cocaine one of the times that the vessel stalled. Seven nautical miles off of Miami, the vessel began taking on water and lost stability. The defendant and another individual identified as George Lewis jumped overboard shortly before the vessel capsized. Five of the thirteen migrants onboard became trapped underneath the capsized vessel, four of whom ultimately died.
Lewis and three other individuals onboard the vessel that night also pled guilty to their conduct relating to this case. Specifically, George Lewis, 38, of the Bahamas, Matthew Williams, 31, Everton Jones, a/k/a “Everton Bryce,” 41, and Kenard Hagigal, 36, each of Jamaica, pled guilty to illegal reentry into the United States by an aggravated felon, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1326(a) and (b)(2). They each await sentencing by United States District Judge Kathleen Williams. A fifth individual, Sean Gaynor, 37, of Jamaica, pled guilty to illegal reentry into the United States, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1326(a), and was sentenced to time served.
At sentencing, Davis faces a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Lewis, Williams, Jones and Hagigal face a statutory maximum sentence of twenty years imprisonment.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI and the USCG. This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Blackburn.
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.