Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards has found Haiti national Luc Eloi guilty of being part of a smuggling ring that sneaked 21 immigrants into the British Virgin Islands last year.
She said she is convinced ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that Eloi was working with the boat captain of the operation, Carwill Potter, who pleaded guilty months ago.
The magistrate further said she believed the $1,400 found on Eloi on the day in question was, in part or in whole, the proceeds of his crime.
His account was not believable
In handing down the verdict on Friday, Richards said, by Eloi’s own account of the ‘harrowing’ experience that night, it made no sense that he opted to remain onboard with Potter while every other illegal immigrant disembarked.
She said if he was being smuggled, as he claimed, he would have lunged at the opportunity to step foot on dry land and get away from Potter, who he said had promised to bring them to the US Virgin Islands despite having engine issues.
“I find it incredible that he (Eloi) was just an innocent person being smuggled,” she said.
“I reject his case on a whole … I could not believe his account of what happened.”
The senior magistrate further said the witnesses who testified that Eloi was an interpreter and helper to Potter was believable.
Eloi, who had only pleaded guilty to illegal entry, is scheduled to be sentenced on November 1.
His co-accused, Potter is currently serving a 30-month sentence for his role in the illegal operation.