St. John man linked to deadly smuggling case

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ST. THOMAS - A St. John man who recently served time for smuggling illegal immigrants into the territory now has been tied to a human trafficking scheme that left eight people, including four children dead.

Lamorthe Delva, 44, who has been living on St. John for about eight years was arrested Friday, as was Dieuseul Mompremier, 45. Delva and Mompremier, both Haitian nationals, are facing charges of conspiracy to smuggle illegal immigrants into the territory, based on a 10-count indictment from a federal grand jury.

U.S. Marshals arrested the two men Friday, and they appeared for the first time in federal court before District Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller on Monday to be advised of their rights. They required interpretation from English to French during the proceeding.

A third man, Roro Edourre, also is named in the indictment, though he is serving time currently in the British Virgin Islands after being convicted of manslaughter in the BVI court in connection with the same incident. It is unclear to what extent he will be able to appear for court proceedings in District Court in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

All three men are accused of playing different roles in a December 2010 effort to transport 33 illegal aliens into the territory from St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles. During the transport, the boat, called the "Jesus La," tried to evade the U.S. Coast Guard, which was patrolling the area, and ran aground in the Brandywine Bay area of Tortola and sank, according to the indictment.

Of the eight people who died, two still have not been identified, according to the indictment.

Edourre was said to be the captain of the boat, and Delva, known as "Babo," and Mompremier, known as "Jomei," were waiting on the "Jesus La," on St. John, according to federal prosecutors.

Delva, who has lived on St. John for several years, is known for helping illegal immigrants into the territory, according to the testimony of a co-conspirator, Davidson Alfred, in a separate case.

District Court Judge Curtis Gomez sentenced Alfred to eight months in prison and Delva to four months after both were found guilty of transporting illegal immigrants into the territory in November 2012.

Alfred and Delva picked up five Haitians in a vehicle Nov. 2, 2012, after the Haitians arrived the previous night in a boat carrying 25 other Haitians.

The Haitians had swam to shore and then hid in the bush until the next morning, until a fellow Haitian told Alfred and Delva about the man, two women and two children who needed help, according to the affidavit.

When a National Park Service ranger got wind that a family had walked out of the bush and got into a car near Long Mat Hill, Customs and Border Protection officers set up a roadblock, the affidavit said. The officers arrested Delva and Alfred, who told officers that Delva was known for helping illegal immigrants get from the shores of St. John to Cruz Bay so that they could get to St. Thomas.

Mompremier's attorney, Carl Williams, said that he had been unable to communicate with Mompremier because an interpreter had been unavailable since Mompremier's arrest, so Miller delayed his detention hearing until Thursday.

Miller also delayed the detention hearing for Delva, represented by federal public defender Gabriel Villegas, until the same time. The mother of Delva's daughter, who is 8 years old and suffers from sickle-cell disease, said that she needed Delva to come home and provide income and said that she could serve as his third-party custodian.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Chisolm, who is prosecuting the case, said that this is a serious case and discouraged the release of the defendants because they are a danger to the community.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email

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