Men paid to smuggle Cubans instead killed 2
For $2,900, most of it wired from Miami, four Colombians were supposed to smuggle three Cubans from Colombia to Panama on their way to the United States.
But one of the Cubans had his throat and stomach slit. And another was raped before having her throat and stomach slit. A third was left for dead in the water, but survived.
Three of the four Colombians — Carlos Emilio Ibarguen Palacios, Fredis Valencia Palacios and Jhoan Stiven Carreazo Asprilla — now might spend the rest of their lives in federal prison. The fourth, Jorge Fernando Rivera Weir, is a fugitive.
Each Colombian man pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to encourage and induce aliens to come to the United States resulting in death, and three counts of encouraging and inducing aliens to come to the United States resulting in death and placing in jeopardy the lives of any person.
They made their pleas in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida before Judge Jose E. Martinez. He will sentence Valencia Palacios on Nov. 28 and Ibarguen Palacios and Carreazo Asprilla on Jan. 4.
Friday’s “guilty plea by Ibarguen Palacios brings to justice another defendant in one of the most horrific cases investigated by HSI Miami,” said Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Selby. “This is exactly what we are constantly warning the public of when it comes to the dangers of human smuggling.
“Although these pleas will not return the victims to their loved ones,” he said, “it does bring justice for their friends and family.”
According to Ibarguen Palacios’ admission of facts, two Cubans referred to in court documents as “E.M.A.” and “L.S.C” wanted to get from Cuba to the United States to live.
So, they flew from Cuba to Guyana, then made it to Colombia in August 2016.
While they were in a Cucuta, Colombia, hotel, Rivera Weir introduced himself and offered to take them to the Panamanian border.
He showed them Facebook photos of people he had smuggled. E.M.A., a woman, and L.S.C., a man, knew some of the people in the pictures from Cuba.
One of E.M.A.’s Miami relatives wired $500 to Rivera Weir. Once E.M.A. and L.S.C. were driven 620 miles to the coastal town of Turbo, Rivera Weir received another $1,400 from Miami. E.M.A. gave Rivera Weir another $1,000 and sent his photo and phone number to the Miami relative.
In Turbo, Rivera Weir introduced Ibarguen Palacios and Valencia Palacios, Rivera Weir’s boat drivers. Turbo is also where Cuban man “D.E.L.S.” joined the group. On Sept. 6, 2016, Valencia Palacios took the three Cubans to a boat captained by Ibarguen Palacios. They headed out for Panama, but turned around when the boat was too leaky.
The next day, there was a different boat and Carreazo Asprilla as a first mate. Once on the water, Ibarguen Palacios whipped out a knife and Carreazo Asprilla pulled out a gun.
Ibarguen Palacios’ admission of facts tells what happened next.
“Ibarguen Palacios tied the wrists of L.S.C. and D.E.L.S., then threw them overboard but pulled them up just above the water, and anchored them with rope to the inside of the boat,” the court documents say. “L.S.C. reported that he heard Carreazo Asprilla and Ibarguen Palacios sexually assault E.M.A. before cutting her throat and murdering her. L.S.C. then heard Carreazo Asprilla and Ibarguen Palacios cut D.E.L.S.’s throat, killing D.E.L.S.”
While they dealt with D.E.L.S., L.S.C. slithered out of the ropes and swam to hide in the mangroves. He waited out the murderers’ search attempts and was found the next day by area fishermen.
“L.S.C. directed the Colombian authorities to the place where the murders happened, and the Colombian authorities retrieved the bodies of E.M.A. and D.E.L.S., which had their throats and bellies cut open and were tied up together and submerged in the water,” court documents say.
After L.S.C. identified all four men by photo, Colombian cops busted Ibarguen Palacios and Carreazo Asprilla in a Turbo hotel. They had some of the Cubans’ personal property with them.