FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A Haitian man is facing U.S. prison time after pleading guilty to illegally smuggling migrants aboard a boat from the Bahamas. Veronel Charles faces between three and 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in August in Fort Pierce federal court. Charles pleaded guilty to two alien smuggling counts last week.
Court records show Charles piloted a boat in mid-March carrying 19 migrants from the Bahamas to St. Lucie County. Authorities say the passengers did not have proper travel documents and were all from Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Authorities say five of those aboard had previously been deported from the U.S. for felony criminal convictions.