A Naples charterboat captain faces federal human-smuggling charges after Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations agents found 11 people from three different countries below the deck of his boat, which broke down and floated in Tavernier Creek on Sunday afternoon.
This was the second human-smuggling bust that day for the Key Largo-based CBP crew. They caught a go-fast boat smuggling more than 30 Cuban nationals about 500 yards off the gated Ocean Reef Club subdivision on North Key Largo early Sunday.
Another smaller group of migrants also was caught Sunday at the nearby Black Point Marina in south Miami-Dade County.
A Customs boat on routine patrol came across an inboard center console boat with Richard Karl Mork, 64, at the helm, at around 3 p.m. Sunday.
Never miss a local story.
As agents boarded the boat, two people on personal watercraft approached, each carrying two cans of gasoline on the backs of their vessels, according to a March 14 criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court by an agent with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, the lead agency on all three cases.
Mork told the agents he ran out of fuel and asked the PWC operators to get him gasoline from shore.
Below deck of the vessel, named “Scout” and homeported in Lake Forest, Ill., the Customs agents found 11 people, including two unaccompanied children, the complaint states. Other than Mork, none of the passengers had status in the United States, nor permission to be in the country.
The group reportedly included six Jamaicans, four Haitians and one Bahamian. Agents transferred them to a U.S. Coast Guard cutter to be processed.
After agents read Mork his rights, he told them he picked the people up in Bimini in the Bahamas. His destination was not mentioned in the complaint, but he ran out of fuel about two nautical miles off Tavernier in the Upper Keys.
Mork knew his passengers were not legally allowed to enter the United States, HSI Special Agent Kelly Jacobs Jr. wrote in the affidavit..