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Smugglers caught ferrying Chinese to U.S. from Bahamas

An Italian man was charged in the U.S. with smuggling Chinese nationals into that country from The Bahamas.

Rocco Oppedisano is accused of attempting to smuggle 14 Chinese nationals and one Bahamian into Florida from The Bahamas on December 2, 2019 on a yacht.

Oppedisano was charged with one count of conspiracy to encourage and induce aliens to enter the United States; 15 counts of encouraging and inducing aliens to enter the United States; 15 counts of bringing aliens to the United States for commercial and private financial gain; and one count of illegal entry of a removed alien.

According to federal court documents, Oppedisano was deported from the U.S. on January 31, 2019 and did not have permission to re-enter the country.

One of his passengers, Ying Lian Li, was also charged with one count of illegal entry of a removed alien. Li was deported from the U.S. in April 2019, before attempting to re-enter in December.

In another incident that occurred on July 23, 2019, James Bradford and Robert McNeil Jr. were caught allegedly attempting to illegally transport 12 Chinese nationals from The Bahamas to the United States.

According to federal court documents, Bradford was the captain of a 70-foot yacht and McNeil was the crewman.

McNeil told the U.S. Coast Guard that there were two crew members and eight passengers, who he claimed were Japanese citizens, who are not required to have visas to enter the United States for tourism or business.

Bradford and McNeil provided the Coast Guard with the names and passport numbers of the eight passengers. However, when the coast guard later boarded the yacht, they discovered 12 Chinese passengers. Chinese nationals require visas to enter the United States.

The court documents said Bradford later admitted during questioning that the purpose of the trip to The Bahamas was “to pick up a tour group of aliens in the Bahamas and transport them to the United States and return them to the Bahamas on Friday”.

United States Embassy spokesperson Daniel Durazo said yesterday that the embassy is aware of the incidents.

“U.S. Coast Guard continues to co-ordinate closely with Bahamian authorities to stop human smuggling through Bahamian waters,” said Durazo.

Rachel Knowles

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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