Haitian man pleads guilty to smuggling illegal immigrants

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ST. THOMAS - One of the men held responsible for the death of eight illegal immigrants during a smuggling trip pleaded guilty in federal court Friday.

Lamorthe Delva, of Haiti, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to smuggle illegal immigrants into the United States, United States Attorney Ronald Sharpe said in a prepared statement issued Friday.

Delva, 46, was charged in April in a 10-count indictment, along with Dieuseul Mompremier and Roro Edourre. In addition to conspiracy to smuggle illegal immigrants, Mompremier, Delva and Edourre are charged with unlawfully attempting to bring illegal immigrants into the United States.

Mompremier also is charged with transportation of an alien within the United States on or about Dec. 28, 2011, according to Sharpe. Edourre was prosecuted for manslaughter in the British Virgin Islands, where he currently is serving his sentence.

In December 2010, Delva, Mompremier and Edourre conspired with each other and additional co-conspirators to smuggle 33 people, most of them Haitian nationals, to St. John.

Edourre was the captain of the vessel "Jesus La," which started out on Dec. 5, 2010, from St. Maarten.

Edourre intended to get the people to Mompremier and Delva, who were waiting on St. John.

The U.S. Coast Guard spotted the "Jesus La" while en route, and attempted to pursue the vessel, according to the indictment.

Edourre attempted to evade the Coast Guard and in so doing ran the "Jesus La" aground in the Brandywine Bay area of Tortola and sank, resulting in the death of at least eight individuals, including four children.

Delva faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Sentencing has been scheduled for Sept. 25 before District Judge Curtis V. Gomez.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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