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Human Smuggler Sentenced to Life

November 21, 2002

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MIAMI (AP) _ A Cuban-American was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for running an alien-smuggling operation that ended with a Cuban woman’s death on a barren Bahamian island.

Jorge ``Bombino″ Aleman and his ring were accused of picking up 22 Cubans in January 2001 on a 26-foot power boat near Villa Clara, Cuba.

Aleman, a boat mechanic in Miami, was identified as the man who forced seven people overboard to gain speed and flee pursuing Cuban border guards, who stopped to rescue the seven.

Cira Rodriguez suffered fatal head injuries in the flight.

The 15 who remained aboard were dropped on the barren Bahamian island of Anguilla Cay and left there for five days, eating snails and cactus when their food supplies ran out.

Rodriguez was buried on the deserted cay before a second boat arrived to carry them to Key Largo.

U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King sentenced Aleman to life in prison plus five years, ignoring sentencing guidelines of 10 to 12 1/2 years, citing the defendant’s disregard for human life.

King sentenced another member of the ring, Gaspar Coll Gonzales, to seven years, three months in prison.

Both had pleaded guilty in May to one count of attempting to smuggle an illegal alien resulting in a death and one count of conspiring to smuggle aliens.

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