French National Arrested on Charges of Alien Smuggling

ST. THOMAS – Alain Rene Leichtnam, 71, a French national, was arrested April 30, 2015, on a criminal complaint charging him with encouraging and inducing aliens to enter the United States in violation of law, United States Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe announced today. Leichtnam made his initial appearance on May 1, 2015, and had his detention hearing today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller. Judge Miller detained Leichtnam pending further proceedings and he was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshals Service.

According to the complaint, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) intercepted a catamaran vessel, Mazurka, off of the coast of St. John, Virgin Islands in the early morning hours of April 29, 2015. The vessel was operated by Leichtnam and contained 38 Cuban nationals and one national of St. Lucia. None of the individuals possessed the proper documents to lawfully enter the United States. Encouraging and inducing aliens to enter the United States carries a sentence of not more than five years in prison, and in the case of a violation in which the offense was done for the purpose of private financial gain, not more than 10 years’ imprisonment.

United States Attorney Sharpe reminds the public that a complaint is merely a formal charging document and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the CBP, OAM, the USSG, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kim L. Chisholm.