TAMPA- Indictments were issued against six people, including one from Port Charlotte and two from North Port, accused of charges involving smuggling illegal immigrants into the country.
Carlos Velazquez-Roman, 52, of North Port; Jasmine Santos-Martinez, 40, of North Port; Yoel Emilio Baez-Hernandez, 40, of Hialeah; Edel Mesa-Hernandez, 35, of Miami; Mario Emilio Tamayo-Mejias, 51, of Port Charlotte; and Amable Gonzalez-Mandin, 56, of Miami have all been charged with conspiring to bring more than 100 illegal immigrants into the United States, bringing illegal immigrants into the U.S., transporting illegal immigrants, and violating a federal regulation prohibiting departing U.S. waters with intent to enter Cuban waters without authorization.
If convicted, each faces up to 10 years in federal prison for each immigrant, as it relates to the conspiracy charge. Bringing illegal immigrants in the U.S. yields a mandatory minimum penalty of five years, up to a maximum of 15 years in federal prison. Transporting illegal immigrants carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. Violating a federal regulation prohibiting departing U.S. waters with intent to enter Cuban waters without authorization can result in a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.
The United States is also seeking a forfeiture money judgment of at least $1,530,000, the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct, real property located at 4871 Kendsha Street, North Port, and a vessel registered to Velazquez-Roman, both of which are to be forfeited to the United States as substitute assets.
According to the indictment, beginning on an unknown date prior to May 3, 2007 and continuing through at least May 15, 2013, all six individuals were part of a conspiracy to bring and attempt to bring more than 100 illegal immigrants to the United States. Velazquez- Roman is charged with six instances of bringing illegal immigrants to the U.S., while Mesa-Hernandez, Santos-Martinez, Tamayo-Mejias, and Gonzalez-Mandin are each charged with one instance of bringing illegal immigrants to the U.S. Velazquez-Roman is charged with two instances of departing U.S. territorial waters and entering Cuban territorial waters without permission, while Mesa-Hernandez, Tamayo-Mejias, and Gonzalez-Mandin are each charged with one such incident. Velazquez-Roman and Gonzalez-Mandin are each charged with transporting an illegal immigrant within the U.S.
An indictment is a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.