Ashemba Frett, 22, of Tortola, British Virgin Islands, made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller on St. Thomas on Tuesday after being charged in a complaint with encouraging and inducing aliens to illegally enter the United States, U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe announced.
Miller released Frett to the custody of a third-party custodian and ordered him to post a $10,000 unsecured bond.
According to the complaint, the U.S. Coast Guard on Sunday conducted a safety stop on a vessel in U.S. waters. The vessel was allegedly operated by Frett and an unidentified individual who jumped overboard prior to the vessel being stopped.
A Haitian national and a national from the Dominican Republic were aboard the vessel. Neither possessed documents to lawfully enter the United States.
Under federal law, if convicted of illegally encouraging and inducing aliens to enter the United States, Frett faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and in the case of a violation in which the offense was done for the purpose of private financial gain, not more than 10 years imprisonment.
The case is being investigated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, the USCG and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sigrid M. Tejo-Sprotte.