JO - ANTIGUA: Cuba human smuggling ring busted open
ANTIGUA: Cuba human smuggling ring busted open
published: Monday January 16, 2006
Cuban President Fidel Castro (second left), Zhao Rongxian (right), Chinese ambassador to Cuba, and Carlos Manuel Pazo, Cuban Minister of Transportation, sit together in Havana on Saturday. They were celebrating the arrival of 12 diesel locomotives from China, a week ago. China became Cuba's second-largest trading partner after Venezuela in 2005 and Chinese exports to Cuba grew 95 per cent in the first 10 months of 2005 to over US$500 million. - REUTERS
ST. JOHN'S (CMC):
IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS believe they have uncovered an organised smuggling ring that allows Cuban nationals to use Antigua as a transit point for entry into the United States and the British Virgin Islands.
The Antigua Sun newspaper quoted Chief Immigration Officer, Colonel Clyde Walker, as confirming that a Dominica-registered vessel, which set sail from Antigua last Monday with six Cubans aboard, was intercepted in St. Maarten.
Walker said the boat and the Cubans were in the custody of St. Maarten officials, "but the captain fled and efforts are now being made to recapture him".
"It is understood that the Cubans told the St. Maarten officials they had paid US$2,400 to the captain to take them to St. Thomas but the boat was intercepted in St. Maarten waters."
The immigration chief said the Cubans told the authorities their passports were in the custody of immigration authorities in Antigua.
"We checked all the seaports and the airport and we are not holding any Cuban passports," Walker told the newspaper. "However, the boat was registered in Dominica, but investigations we conducted here revealed who the captain was and who delivered the boat to them and so on and those people are still in Antigua."
Walker said that the Cubans have been using Antigua and Barbuda as a trans-shipment point.