Guyanese Woman Charged With Smuggling Migrants From Bahamas To US

Marcia Sunita Pestano has been charged with conspiring to encourage and induce aliens to enter the US in violation of federal law.

FLORIDA, United States, Tuesday April 30, 2019 – A Guyanese woman is scheduled to be arraigned in a court in the United States next week, on charges of bringing illegal immigrants from the Bahamas to Miami, after being arrested in a sting operation.

Marcia Sunita Pestano was arrested last week after Homeland Security investigators coordinated an undercover operation targeting the 44-year-old who was suspected of directing “alien-smuggling ventures from various third countries through the Bahamas to the United States,” according to a criminal complaint.

She has been charged with conspiring to encourage and induce aliens to enter the US in violation of federal law. Her arraignment is set for May 7.

Pestano allegedly met with an undercover agent in the Bahamas on April 14 to smuggle seven undocumented migrants from Freeport to Miami, and paid the agent $24,900 in US dollars and an additional $6,100 in Bahamian dollars.

The trip was made the next day, and when the boat carrying the migrants was stopped by federal authorities, there were 12 undocumented migrants on board, including the seven whose passage Pestano had arranged.

Then, according to the complaint, between April 16 and April 22, Pestano contacted another undercover agent who was posing as a corrupt government official, and sought assistance to get the seven illegal immigrants out of immigration detention, “so that she would not lose the money she was supposed to earn for arranging for them to be smuggled to the United States”.

She also asked the undercover agent to assist with her own travel to Miami so she could obtain the release of the seven immigrants.

Last Monday, the agent arranged for Pestano to travel from the Bahamian capital, Nassau to Miami and set up a meeting between her and two Indian nationals – who were not identified in the complaint – at a hotel in Doral, “for what they believed would be an exchange” of money for the release.

However, Homeland Security investigators detained her and the other two people at the hotel.

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