Capsizing survivor now charged in deadly human smuggling operation - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Capsizing survivor now charged in deadly human smuggling operation

By Chuck Weber email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX)-A survivor in last week's deadly boat capsizing off Boynton Beach is now accused of being part of the human smuggling operation.

Monday Jimmy Metellus appeared in federal court in downtown West Palm Beach. He's charged with alien smuggling resulting in death.

The death toll now stands at 10. Also on Monday, federal agents say one of the women who died in the capsizing was 8 months pregnant. The Medical Examiner has issued a death certificate for the fetus based on its viability. 16 people survived. As many as five others may still be unaccounted for.

The document charging Metellus quotes another survivor, named "Survivor-1" in the document. The Haitian citizen says his brother paid $4,000 for his passage from the Bahamas to the United States. He also identified Metellus as the one "in command of the vessel."

The survivor says after leaving Nassau, the boat ran out of fuel and drifted for two to three days. After getting refueled, the boat and passengers proceeded to Bimini, where they spent the night, before continuing on toward the States. But they never made it.

Metellus himself talked to agents. He said he had a difficult life in Haiti, feeding and housing seven children. Metellus eventually admitted to being hired to help with the smuggling operation, but he says four others were the "organizers of the smuggling event."

Metellus gets little sympathy from Gary Lucien, a Lake Worth businessman and member of the local Haitian Coalition. "Shame on him," said Lucien. "You know you should protect your people. When you take money from people and you know their lives are in danger, it is not a good thing. Not just for Haitians, for anybody."

Monday at the his court hearing, Metellus said he needed a Creole interpreter. One was not present, so the proceeding was rescheduled for Wednesday.

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