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Man accused of smuggling 10 Haitians claims his boat drifted into VI waters

- remanded to HMP until July 23, 2020
The sail vessel, ‘Popylo SM’, allegedly used to smuggle 10 Haitians into the Virgin Islands on June 25, 2020. Photo: VINO
The arrested Haitians were taken to the Police Marine Base on Tortola before transferred to Paradise Suites. Photo: VINO/File
The arrested Haitians were taken to the Police Marine Base on Tortola before transferred to Paradise Suites. Photo: VINO/File
Sandbox on Prickly Pear Island where 8 of the 10 illegal immigrants (Haitians) were found on July 25 and 26, 2020. Photo: BVI Traveller
Sandbox on Prickly Pear Island where 8 of the 10 illegal immigrants (Haitians) were found on July 25 and 26, 2020. Photo: BVI Traveller
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Crawford Sabaroch, 53, a national of Dominica residing in St Maarten, who is accused of smuggling 10 Haitians into the Territory on June 25, 2020, told the Magistrate’s Court during his first appearance today, July 2, 2020 that his boat had experienced engine trouble for days and had drifted into Virgin Islands waters.

Sabaroch is charged with Being Engaged in Illegal Smuggling and Illegal Entry but was not allowed to enter a plea by Magistrate Christilyn Benjamin since the unrepresented defendant said he wished to apply for legal aid.

He was then remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison until July 23, 2020.

Engine Trouble

According to the allegations of the matter, Sabaroch told members of the Joint Task Force that he had engine trouble near St Barts since June 23, 2020, and had been drifting when he was found in VI waters on June 25, 2020.

Prosecutor Melissa K. Brewley said at the time the officers were responding to a report around 3:30pm that there was a vessel dropping off persons with suitcases on Prickly Pear Island.

When the Joint Task Force responded they noticed a 32ft mono-hull white and green sail vessel named ‘Popylo SM’ with only one person on board.

Mr Sabaroch reportedly told officers he was not aware the Territory’s borders were closed and that he had not sought permission to enter the Territory.

He was then instructed to sail his vessel to the Police Marine Base on Tortola to which he complied with.

Haitians found

According to Ms Brewley, other officers conducted a search on Prickly Pear Island and five men and one female of Haitian descent were found hiding in a generator room at Sandbox.

The individuals all provided their names and confirmed to authorities they were nationals of Haiti. When asked how they had arrived on the island, one of the individuals reportedly stated that 10 of them arrived on the island from St Maarten via a white yacht.

The individual further stated that there were another four persons further up the hill from where they were.

Based on that information, a further search was conducted of the said area. The arrested 6 were transported to the Police Marine Base and subsequently transferred to Paradise Suites in One Stop Mall where the necessary “health checks” were conducted

The following day, June 26, 2020, around 8:30am, another search was conducted on Prickly Pear Island where two more Haitians were found at Sandbox.

The search then continued in the vicinity of Leverick Bay were a further two male Haitians were found hiding in some nearby bushes.

According to Ms Brewley, the Haitians arrested on June 26, 2020, indicated they were transported to the Virgin Islands by the same vessel intercepted by authorities at Prickly Pear Island.

On June 26, 2020, the defendant was invited to participate in an interview by police but declined and indicated he wished to obtain legal representation before doing the interview.

After the prosecution delivered a summary of their case against Mr Sabaroch he asked to know what were the penalties if found guilty and also said he was willing to pay whatever fines as he wanted the matter to be over with.

When asked he wished to get a lawyer; however, the defendant said he didn’t have money to pay a lawyer and instead requested legal aid.

He also complained of not being able to make contact with anyone since his arrest since he could not remember the phone numbers and police were denying him access to his phone to get the numbers.

The defendant also claimed he has a medical condition.

Mr Sabaroch was previously housed at Paradise Suites but after the court was told he had returned a negative test result for coronavirus, Magistrate Benjamin remanded him to Her Majesty’s Prison until July 23, 2020.

13 Responses to “Man accused of smuggling 10 Haitians claims his boat drifted into VI waters”

  • Stop It (02/07/2020, 16:40) Like (24) Dislike (0) Reply
    Stop lying to save yourself y’all taught y’all could’ve got away with it.
  • Oh Please (02/07/2020, 16:40) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
    So where you was going with them Haitians you were sneaking them somewhere else?? Stop lying
  • A (02/07/2020, 16:41) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    If he didn't got caught no one will of know of his medical problem as them old people will say ass ah talk but no ass ah lesson
  • Local (02/07/2020, 16:41) Like (19) Dislike (1) Reply
    These island people always trying sneak in here a lot of them done in here illegally
  • save it (02/07/2020, 16:47) Like (8) Dislike (2) Reply
    They always drifting in the bvi send them behind jail then deport
  • Bull Dawg (02/07/2020, 18:01) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    It don't make sense sending them jail.
    Just charge them a fine so the government can make some good money.
  • NezRez (02/07/2020, 18:39) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    Sooooo....their boat broke down and they drifted into our waters? That would be the only reason for drifting, the only problem is....their boat did not break down. LMAO, they really think we will believe that? Jail them, fine them then deport them never to be allowed back in. They could have already infected us with the virus. I'm pissed off! All of our Governments good work to keep us safe could go down the drain.
  • guy hill (02/07/2020, 18:49) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    That's a lie straight from hell.
  • Sam (03/07/2020, 09:49) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    How can we not catch these guy before enter the Bvi water. This happen all the time.. Every thing is island people.
  • H (03/07/2020, 16:40) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    A boat leave where it came from to drift in bvi Water u could hear thing boddy
  • Sailor (03/07/2020, 17:53) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Looks a sailboat. A competent sailor should be able to use sails to get around without an engine. If he just “drifted”, how did he manage to avoid the Barrier reef that extends 10+ miles to the SE of Anegada (3rd largest in the world”? How did he drop people off if his engine did not work? North side of Prickly Pear has plenty of obstacles. South side would have required him to enter North Sound. Sounds like a pack of lies to me. Is it even his own boat?
  • soo (03/07/2020, 19:52) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    The captain of this vessel said "If found guilty I am willing to pay whatever fine as he wanted the matter to be over with". Still turned around and said that he didn't have money to pay a lawyer and instead requested legal aid.
    How is he going to pay a fine and cannot pay a lawyer?
    If he has a medical condition, how did he survived a drifted about 2 days without medication?

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