Frenchman pleads guilty to migrant smuggling in Caribbean

AP News
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Posted: Aug 12, 2015 7:27 PM

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) — An elderly Frenchman has pleaded guilty to more than three dozen counts of migrant smuggling in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A statement from U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe in the U.S. Caribbean territory said 71-year-old Alain Rene Leichtnam pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court on St. Thomas.

Agents with several U.S. law enforcement agencies intercepted his catamaran off the island of St. John in early hours of April 29. They said Leichtnam was operating the vessel with 38 Cubans and one St. Lucian aboard. None of the passengers had any documents allowing them to enter U.S. territory.

Sharpe says Leichtnam admitted transporting the migrants for financial gain.

Sentencing is scheduled for early December. The French citizen faces up to 10 years in prison.