Prosecutor Flavien Noailles disclosed last night in a arelease that three persons are in custody following the sinking of a boat West of the Anguilla channel Sunday night that claimed the lives of three persons, and left three others missing. He confirmed that a group of Brazilians and Dominicans had been attempting to reach Puerto Rico via St Thomas or St John when their boat Saintoise sank about seven miles from St Martin, after a bilge pump broke down and was unable to prevent the rear of the boat from flooding. Two persons from St Martin on board the boat at the time have been taken into custody and a third person who allegedly rovided logistical help and other arrangements is also in custody. Their detention was increased to 48 hours. Noailles said the interrogation of survivors had revealed the majority of the group had arrived at the beginning of June via SXM Airpport. Some had paid up to US $16.000 to rech their final destination.
It emerged that one more person had been rescued as late as Tuesday morning. July 2nd bringing the total number of survivors to 14. Air reconnaissance did not pinpoint the ill fated vessel which had drifted quickly West-Northwest.
It originally was thought 20 people had been on board the boat, but it emerged six more persons had been rescued by an accomplice of the smugglers. The provisional tally therefore 20 persons rescued, three dead, three missing. AN investigation has been opened for involuntary manslaughter and assistance in entry or stay of an organised group of illegal immigrants. The inquiry continues to identify all persons involved in this trafficking episode Noailles concluded.