A boat captain caught smuggling illegal immigrants from Tortola in May pleaded guilty to federal charges in District Court on Monday.
Defendant Shawn Callwood, 36, was apprehended by a Homeland Security marine interdiction unit as he traveled with passengers in a speedboat from the BVI in May.
The formalities of a change of plea hearing took place before District Court Judge Curtis Gomez at the Ron de Lugo Federal Courthouse on Monday. A plea agreement was reached Aug. 3.
After the hearing Callwood entered a written statement, admitting guilt, “for knowingly bringing and attempting to bring to the United States an alien, knowing that the alien was an alien, at a place other than a designated port of entry.”
The statement concluded with the defendant admitting he made the May 9 trip with nationals from the Dominican Republic for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain.
His arrest took place inside the waters of the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John. Enforcement officers fired two shots across the bow of Callwood’s boat after verbal warnings did not bring compliance.
At the time, the defendant told authorities he was carrying passengers to St. John because they missed the BVI ferry. On Monday Callwood changed his story.
“I brought 5 illegal aliens from Tortola to the U.S. Virgin Islands,” he wrote in court documents.
Investigators found out that one of the five passengers was an aggravated felon who had already been deported from the U.S. One of the passengers in the speedboat was also detained as a material witness. Glenys Cruz Calcano, originally identified as G.C.C. in court, was identified by Homeland Security Special Agent Brien Webber as someone possessing information needed to establish probable cause against Callwood.
Charging documents produced in Calcano’s case described her as a person found in U.S. waters without the required authorization. Prosecutors asked the court to dismiss charges against the witness in early July.
Gomez accepted Callwood’s plea at the Monday hearing and ordered pre-sentencing report. Violations of laws under United States Code, Section 1324, carries a potential penalty of 10 to 16 months imprisonment and one year of supervised release.