BVI News

Job-seeking immigrants get 6 months in prison

Marine police on patrol in BVI (File photo)

Marine police on patrol in BVI (File photo)

Three natives of the Dominican Republic were each sentenced to six months at Her Majesty’s Prison for illegal entry into the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Thirty-seven-year-old Rosa Jimenez, 38-year-old Victor De La Rosa, and 44-year-old Roberto Ubiera were sentenced after they pleaded guilty to the offence in the Magistrate’s Court this month.

All three offenders told Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards that they were trying to secure employment to help feed their families.

That, they said, was the underlying reason they had left their country.

“I didn’t come here with any bad intention; I came here to look work,” said Jimenez, who was the only female among the trio.

“My country is in a bad condition. There is no food for my children… Please forgive me for entering in that manner,” the Spanish-speaking woman further said with the aid of an interpreter.

The other two offenders, in the meantime, explained that the BVI is not the country they planned to reach. They were actually headed for the neighbouring US Virgin Islands.

“My intentions were not to come to this island. This is the first time I arrived here, and it is the last,” De La Rosa told the court.

“It wasn’t my intention to come to this country,” echoed Ubiera.

What happened

As was previously reported by BVI News Online, members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force were on patrol near the Police Marine Base when they observed a small vessel docked in the Road Reef area of Tortola.

They were alerted by ‘strange movements’ on the vessel.

After police approached the said vessel, they reportedly saw the offenders onboard and requested their identification.

The court heard that the Dominican Republic passports belonging to the three persons charged did not contain visas permitting them to enter the BVI.

During a police interview, the foreigners explained that they paid for a trip to St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, but ended up in the BVI after their boat developed ‘mechanical problems’.

They were subsequently charged.

The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) had stated that a fourth person was charged, but it later said that person in question was released without charge.

It also stated that a fifth person, who is a native of the BVI, was held on suspicion of human trafficking. That person was also released.

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