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Man charged with human smuggling

A Haitian is accused of piloting a boat loaded with immigrants that capsized last week off Florida. At least nine people died.

May 19, 2009|Associated Press

MIAMI — A Haitian man was charged with human smuggling Monday after federal authorities accused him of piloting a boat overloaded with migrants that capsized off Florida's coast, killing at least nine people, including a pregnant woman.

Jimmy Metellus, 33, is scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday on charges of smuggling that caused the death of another person.

A conviction could result in the death penalty or life in prison.

Metellus, a Haitian citizen with permanent U.S. resident status, was among 16 people rescued when the boat capsized early Wednesday off Boynton Beach, about 60 miles north of Miami.

Most of the survivors -- 15 Haitians and one Jamaican -- will be deported to their home countries under U.S. policy.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the dead included two men, six women and an infant.

Authorities also issued a separate death certificate for the pregnant woman's 8-month-old fetus.

Two women and a baby remained hospitalized Monday, and the other survivors were in immigration custody. Five people are listed as missing.

According to an immigration agent, Metellus told investigators that he was hired by a man known only as "Shine" to pilot the vessel from the Bahamas to the United States with about 30 undocumented migrants aboard.

The affidavit said Metellus was offered $6,000 for the trip but decided instead to be paid with free passage on the boat.

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