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Tuesday, June 18, 2024


Dec. 14, 2001 – A jury has acquitted two St. Thomas men who were accused of causing the deaths of at least six people when a boat full of illegal immigrants capsized July 15 in international waters southeast of Virgin Gorda.
On Thursday, the jury in District Court found Evans Registe, 31, and Andrew Davis, 44, not guilty of six counts of alien smuggling that resulted in death and 17 counts of alien smuggling that jeopardizes life. If convicted of causing the deaths of the six people, the two men could have been sentenced to life in prison.
During the three-day trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nelson Jones presented evidence that as many as 30 undocumented Colombian and Haitian immigrants left French St. Martin late July 14 aboard the 31-foot powerboat Double Impact owned by Registe. The boat was heading for the U.S. Virgin Islands when it was intercepted that night by the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Cushing about 20 miles southeast of Virgin Gorda, Jones said.
After a chase, the Double Impact flipped over, tossing all of the passengers and crew into the ocean at about 1 a.m. July 15. The Coast Guard crew saved Registe, Davis and crewman Damian Dumas, 24, as well as 17 of the immigrants, including an infant Colombian girl who was plucked from the water as she drifted away from the scene.
Six bodies were recovered from the water, and at least two other people are believed to have been lost at sea, evidence presented at the trial showed. Other people from the boat also may have drowned, but investigators have not been able to confirm that.
Documents presented at trial showed that Registe had registered the Double Impact with the Planning and Natural Resources Department on St. Thomas two days earlier. Witnesses testified that Davis piloted the boat that night.
Defense attorneys Leonard Francis and Stephen Brusch argued that no crime was committed in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and that the boat may have capsized because it was overturned by the wake of the Coast Guard cutter. They said that no one could prove the Double Impact was bound for the Virgin Islands, or that the aliens did not intend to report to immigration officials upon their arrival.
Dumas pleaded guilty before the trial to a charge of aiding and abetting the smuggling operation. He faces up to 15 years in prison.

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