Carwill Potter, 72, was recently sentenced to two and a half years in prison after allegedly smuggling 21 migrants into the territory last year.
During a hearing on April 23, Mr. Potter was given 30 months for smuggling and eight months for illegal entry, Director of Public Prosecutions Kim Hollis confirmed last week.
The two sentences will run at the same time. The Virgin Islands native pleaded guilty to both charges in March.
Sentencing factors taken into account in the case included the seriousness of the offence and the fact that the vessel was “significantly unseaworthy,” Ms. Hollis stated in an e-mail.
The DPP added that Mr. Potter was also the “main mastermind and architect” behind the plan, and that children were among the migrants. The offence was committed “solely for financial/commercial gain,” she said.
“The courts considered this to be a case of high culpability,” Ms. Hollis wrote.
A second defendant in the case, Luc Eloi of Haiti, was accused of assisting Mr. Potter in the smuggling operation.
When he appeared in court last July, Mr. Eloi pleaded not guilty to illegal entry, smuggling migrants and possession of the proceeds of criminal conduct.
During that appearance, he told Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards that he was merely another migrant, not a ringleader of the plan.
“I’m not guilty because I was a passenger just like everyone else on the boat,” he said through a translator.
Law enforcement officers discovered and detained the group of migrants at Biras Creek in Virgin Gorda on April 10, 2017, Police Information Officer Diane Drayton said at the time.
The next month, then-acting Chief Immigration Officer Geraldine Ritter-Freeman confirmed to the press that 27 migrants in total had been detained. The group included six women and five minors, she said, and 23 of them had already been repatriated by late May.
Most of the individuals were from Haiti and a few hailed from Cuba, Sri Lanka, the Dominican Republic and India, according to the CIO.
At the time, one of the remaining migrants was in the process of being repatriated and three were being held for investigation, Ms. Ritter-Freeman reported.
Mr. Eloi first appeared in Magistrates’ Court on July 14. The defendant, who had been found carrying $1,400 in cash, reportedly told police that he was picked up in St. Maarten and transported to the territory.
“If I work for money, I don’t see how it can be criminal conduct,” he told the court.
But during an “identification parade” held by police, some of the migrants named Mr. Eloi as one of the men who transported them to the territory, the court heard during a March hearing.
Those migrants allegedly described a “Mr. Potter” as the second man involved.
On Aug. 12, Anguillan authorities reportedly held and deported Carwill Potter. Some migrants also identified Mr. Potter during an identification lineup, according to prosecutors.
He was subsequently charged with smuggling and illegal entry.
Mr. Eloi was set to go to trial after the March hearing, though it is unclear if a date has been set in that case.