In a Florida court, 52-year-old Bahamian fisherman Preston Russell pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to smuggle illegal migrants into the United States for $20,000.
He was found off the Florida by US Customs and Border Protection and the US Coast Guard in November of 2012, piloting a 25-ft vessel which contained seven Brazils and one Dominican Republic national.
The vessel had no navigation lights, no identifiers, and was riding low in the water.
The boat was towed to the Coast Guard Station in Fort Pierce where Russell told authorities his story.
According to an article in The Tribune: He said he was approached by a Brazilian man named Marcos who offered him $5,000 per person but this was later changed to a fixed price of $20,000 per trip, regardless of the number of persons on board. Marcos gave Russell $6,000 with a promised $14,000 when he returned. Russell spent $4,500 of that money to purchase a new boat.
The Tribune article further stated: Russell had no passport in his possession when he was found and admitted to authorities he knew it was illegal to smuggle migrants into the United States, according to court documents. He also admitted to a prior arrest in 1989 for possession of cocaine and another arrest in 1999 for entering the US illegally.
Russell was charged in US court with attempted alien smuggling for personal financial gain and attempted illegal re-entry of a previously removed alien.