Crawford Sabaroch — the 53-year-old Dominica native accused of smuggling nearly a dozen illegal immigrants in the territory days ago — reportedly told local law enforcers he encountered engine troubles and inadvertently drifted into BVI waters.
He is charged with being engaged in smuggling as well as illegal entry and was not made to plea during his virtual appearance before the Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
Allegations are that members of a joint task force were conducting border patrol duties on June 25 when they received a report and proceeded to Prickly Pear Island to investigate.
While en route to the island, the officers reportedly met with the accused alone on his vessel which was located north-west of the outer island.
It was during that encounter Sabaroch allegedly told the law enforcement officers he started experiencing engine trouble while at sea in St Barths and had been adrift since June 23.
When further questioned, he said he was unaware that the territory’s borders were closed.
Following their conversation with the accused man, police commenced a search of the said island and six persons from Haiti were found. They were found taking refuge in a generator room on the island, the court heard.
The following day, an additional search was done and four more individuals were found — two on Prickly Pear and another two on Leverick Bay in Virgin Gorda.
Alleged smuggler identified
The court heard that during the probe, one of the Haitians told the officers they were coming from St Martin and a white yacht dropped them in the territory.
The vessel was later identified and they were all taken into custody. The accused was not given bail because he has no status in the territory.
He will be placed on remand at Her Majesty’s Prison. Meanwhile, the 10 illegal immigrants are currently at Paradise Suites Hotel pending deportation.
Sabaroch, who is unrepresented, is scheduled to return to court on July 23.
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