News Release
August 26, 2008

Alien Smuggler Sentenced to 22 Years Imprisonment

AUG 26 -- Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced that Leon Brice Johnson was sentenced on August 22, 2008, to 22 years imprisonment. Johnson was sentenced for his participation in an alien smuggling conspiracy, which resulted in the deaths of three aliens; and a narcotics smuggling conspiracy that involved the transportation of 14 kilograms of cocaine, 2 kilograms of heroin and 83 pounds of marijuana, from the Bahamas to Jupiter Island, Florida.

According to the evidence presented at the sentencing hearing, Johnson and his co-defendant Rickey Thompson, participated in two separate smuggling trips – one in August 2006 and a second in December 2006. During each trip, Thompson, the boat captain, and Johnson, the co-captain, transported a group of illegal aliens and narcotics, from Freeport, Bahamas to Jupiter Island, aboard Thompson’s 33 foot speed boat. The aliens paid Thompson fees ranging from $1,500 to $4,000 per trip, and were assured that Thompson would drop them off on the beach or in water no higher than their knees.

During both trips, Thompson drove the boat without lights to avoid detection and made frequent stops whenever he believed he saw or heard a Coast Guard vessel. On each occasion, Thompson and Johnson ordered the aliens off the boat approximately 50 to 100 yards from the shore of Jupiter Island, in deep, rough waters. During each event there were aliens aboard the boat that could not swim, and asked to remain on the boat. Ignoring their pleas, Thompson and Johnson forced the aliens off the boat at gun point. Two aliens drowned during the August trip and one during the December trip. The defendants also transported large quantities of narcotics, including cocaine, heroin and marijuana during both trips.

Mr. Acosta commended the DEA, ICE, Martin County Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, U.S. Border Patrol, Jupiter Island Police Department, and Tequesta Police Department for their investigation of this matter.

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