St. Lucia Woman Being Held as Witness In Smuggling Case of 38 Cuban Migrants

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A St. Lucia national was ordered to be held in a federal detention facility after she arrived in a boat on the East End of St. John along with 38 Cuban migrants.
U.S. Magistrate Ruth Miller ruled the woman, identified as Kurcharma Mishkia St. Luce, 23, a material witness in the case against Alain Rene Leichtnam, 71.

Authorities accuse Leichtnam of being the operator of the catamaran Mazurka, which brought the migrants to St. John.

In court documents St. Luce, a native of St. Lucia, told agents from the Department of Homeland Security Leichtnam was her boyfriend.  They were both taken into custody by the U.S. Coast Guard on April 30 as Leichtman dropped off the Mazurka’s passengers.

The woman told investigators she and family members were socializing with Leichtnam on board the catamaran on April 25.  When Leichtnam left the next morning to buy water in preparation for a trip another man appeared along with Cubans and boarded them, St. Luce said.

When the boat left port the woman told authorities she thought they were headed to St. Martin, but she heard the Cubans on board saying “St. John” and “St. Thomas,” according to the documents. But when she asked Leichtnam what the extra people were doing on board he did not answer her, she told authorities.
Investigators said St. Luce told them she decided she would not press the matter because she did not want 38 angry Cubans on her hands so she went along with the change of plans.

Defense attorney Joseph DiRuzzo said the magistrate agreed with prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office when they called St. Luce a material witness against Leichtnam.  Because she is not a U.S. citizen and has no ties to the Virgin Islands community, she was remanded to the federal detention center in Puerto Rico, pending further proceedings.