Two men from the Dominican Republic have been charged with illegally re-entering the United States after being removed, U.S. Attorney Delia Smith announced Thursday.
Kelvin Bautista Valdez, 35, and Gilberto Antonio Estrella, 59, were apprehended Nov. 30 by Customs and Border Protection officials at Brewers Bay on St. Thomas, according to court documents, Smith said in a press release.
CBP Air and Marine Operations agents observed a vessel in the area of Brewers Bay that they recognized from a previous law enforcement encounter involving the transportation of undocumented migrants, the release stated.
“Shortly thereafter, CBP agents on the ground responded to Brewers Bay where they observed seven individuals at the shoreline who appeared to be waiting for transportation,” the release stated. “The individuals, including Bautista Valdez and Estrella, admitted that they were all undocumented and were awaiting transport to Puerto Rico.”
None in the group could identify who or what type of vessel would provide their transport. An immigration record check revealed that neither had received permission to enter the United States, and that Bautista Valdez and Estrella had previously entered the country illegally and were both removed, the release stated.
Bautista Valdez later admitted that he had paid traffickers $4,500 for his transport and Estrella admitted that he paid traffickers $4,800 for his transport, it said.
The investigation is being conducted by Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kyle Payne.