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North Port couple indicted for smuggling Cuban immigrants
According to a federal indictment, Carlos Velazquez-Roman, 52, and
Jasmine Santos-Martinez, 40, both of the 4800 block of Kendsha Street,
helped to organize the human trafficking operation from May 3 of 2007
until at least May 13 of 2013
Last Modified: Sunday, March 16, 2014 at 4:40 p.m.

NORTH PORT – A special agent for the U.S. Immigration and
Enforcement detailed in federal court last week how a North Port couple
led an operation to smuggle 150 undocumented Cuban immigrants into the
United States.

According to a federal indictment, Carlos Velazquez-Roman, 52, and
Jasmine Santos-Martinez, 40, both of the 4800 block of Kendsha Street,
helped to organize the human trafficking operation from May 3 of 2007
until at least May 13 of 2013. Velazquez-Roman and Santos-Martinez have
a common-law marriage.

Four other Floridians, from Port Charlotte, Miami and Hialeah, were also
charged in connection with the smuggling ring.

The operation apparently involved smuggling Cubans by boat to the United
States, holding them in North Port. They would then be taken to Miami to
“stage” a landing so they could encounter the Border Patrol.

“Cuban migrants want to get encountered by the Border Patrol,” Special
Agent Jennifer Silliman said, “because once they have landed here in the
United States, they are allowed to stay.”

Silliman testified Tuesday and called Velazquez-Roman the “leader” of
the operation.

The human smuggling ring operated out of a bright orange home in a North
Port residential neighborhood. Neighbors said Velazquez-Roman and
Santos-Martinez kept to themselves.

One neighbor, who did not want to be named, said an older woman whose
backyard used to border the couple’s backyard would always talk about
the commotion she heard from the house.

“She said people were staying in the boat they had parked behind their
house,” the neighbor said.

The neighbor also noticed two large horse trailers in front of the
house. Once in a while, Velazquez-Roman would tow one while another
person he did not recognize towed the second trailer out of the
neighborhood.

“He had a lot of people around all the time,” the neighbor added. “They
didn’t speak any English. He could hardly speak it himself.”

According to Special Agent Silliman’s testimony, many of the
undocumented immigrants interviewed identified Velazquez-Roman as
involved with bringing them to the United States or piloting the boat
from Cuba to Florida.

Agents raided Velazquez-Roman and Santos-Martinez’s jointly owned house
last week and found satellite cell phones and other evidence.

Silliman said investigators collected toll records, photographs,
interviews, pen registers, tracking warrants, trash runs and subpoenas
as evidence.

The photographs apparently showed some of those accused of being part of
the trafficking organization on boats near or in Cuban waters.

Velazquez-Roman has been charged with six cases of bringing
aliens to the U.S., two cases of departing U.S. territorial waters and
entering Cuban territorial waters without permission, transporting an
illegal alien within the U.S., and conspiracy to bring and attempt to
bring more than 100 illegal aliens to the United States.

Santos-Martinez was charged with one instance of bringing illegal aliens
to the U.S., and conspiracy to bring and attempt to bring more than 100
illegal aliens to the United States.

Mario Emilio Tamayo-Mejias, 51, of Port Charlotte; Yoel Emilio
Baez-Hernandez, 40, of Hialeah; Edel Mesa-Hernandez, 35, of Miami and
Amable Gonzalez-Mandin, 56, of Miami, were also charged in connection to
the case.

Source: North Port couple indicted for smuggling Cuban immigrants |
HeraldTribune.com –
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20140316/article/140319717

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