By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
A CUBAN national who resides in the United States was convicted and fined over $30,000 after pleading guilty in the Freeport Magistrate’s Court to charges of illegal landing and assisting in the illegal embarkation of six immigrants in Grand Bahama.
Andy Ruiz Igarza, 24, of Florida, appeared before Magistrate Rengin Johnson in court three. Also appearing were Leonardo Zuniga and Manuel Plasencia, both of Ecudaor, and Chinese nationals Yulia Huang; Jin Sheng Zhao; Zhao Zhang; and Wei Wang, who were all charged with overstaying and illegal embarkation.
The six men were discovered on board a vessel at the Lucayan Marina on May 3 and were suspected of taking preparatory steps to be smuggled outside The Bahamas. Officials also discovered that they had overstayed their visitor’s time in The Bahamas.
During the arraignment, the men pleaded guilty to the charges and were fined $3,300 each, or in default will serve one year imprisonment at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.
On May 3, Igarza, a permanent US resident, was also found at the Lucayan Marina in Freeport having landed from a place outside the Bahamas without leave of an immigration officer.
He pleaded guilty to the offence and was fined $300 or in default three months imprisonment.
It is further alleged that while at Freeport, Igarza was making preparatory steps to assist in the illegal embarkation of the six men to a destination outside the Bahamas knowing that they were not in possession of any visa or other documents entitling them to enter the US.
Igarza pleaded guilty and was convicted. Magistrate Johnson fined him $5,000 for each of the six persons he attempted to assist in smuggling to the US, totalling $30,000. In default of payment, Igarza will serve one year at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.
Magistrate Johnson also ordered that the vessel, which was operated by Igarza, be confiscated by the Department of Immigration.