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1 pleads guilty in smuggling venture that killed 4

May 16, 2014

MIAMI (AP) — A Bahamian national was drinking rum and smoking crack-cocaine the night the smuggling boat he was driving from the Bahamas to South Florida capsized, killing four Haitian women, according to a federal court documents.

Naaman Davis pleaded guilty Thursday in Miami federal court to charges of smuggling resulting in death and helping aggravated felons re-enter the U.S. He was among 11 people found clinging to the hull of a boat that capsized early on the morning of Oct. 16 in the waters off Miami. The victims died beneath the boat.

According to a plea agreement, prosecutors plan to seek the dismissal of other charges against Davis, including involuntary manslaughter, after his sentencing scheduled for July 21. He faces a maximum of life in prison.

Davis was paid to drive the migrant-filled boat overnight to a Miami-area beach, prosecutors said. According to court documents, Davis drank rum from a bottle before the boat left Bimini, the Bahamas, and smoked crack-cocaine during one of the several times it stalled during its voyage.

Another Bahamian national who survived the capsizing faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to illegally re-entering the U.S. after being deported. George Lewis originally had faced charges of smuggling resulting in death, but prosecutors agreed to seek the dismissal of those charges after his sentencing set for July 25.

The 24-foot vessel began taking on water about 7 nautical miles east of Miami, within view of the downtown skyline. According to court documents, Lewis used his cellphone to call 911 for help and then jumped overboard with Davis shortly before the boat capsized, trapping the victims underneath.

Four other men, two from the Bahamas and two from Jamaica, who were on the boat have pleaded guilty to charges of illegally re-entering the U.S. after being deported.

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