Tragic Trafficking: Bahamian National Charged Over Fatal Smuggling Incident


A Bahamian citizen has been charged with trying to bring illegal immigrants into the US by boat more than once, and on one trip, five people died.

Vandrick Nelson Smith, 33, was arrested in the Bahamas on March 6 at the request of the US. Federal prosecutors said in a statement that the US is now trying to extradite him to face some crimes.

The multi-count indictment, which was made public on Tuesday, says that Smith was involved in three attempts between March 2021 and August 2022 to bring refugees into the United States by boat from a Caribbean country.

It said that people from Haiti, Jamaica, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic paid the man to take them across the ocean to the United States.

On January 22, 2022, on a trip from the Bahamas to Florida, the engines of a boat with many migrants on board stopped working, and the boat started to flip over.

In a taped statement, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole Argentieri said that three days later, the U.S. Coast Guard found one person still alive clinging to the side of the boat and rescued them. They also found several bodies.

“Pursuing human smugglers who endanger migrants and place their lives in jeopardy is a top priority for the criminal division, wherever those smugglers may operate,” she added. “The charges brought today should serve as a reminder that smuggling people is not only illegal, but also risky.

Smith is being charged with five counts of trying to bring noncitizens to the United States with the intent to kill them. If he is found guilty, he could spend the rest of his life in jail.

People who work with people smugglers might be putting their lives in danger. And pirates who care only about making money and not the safety of people trying to get to the U.S. will be punished to the fullest, Argentieri said.

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