A federal grand jury returned a seven-count bill of indictment against Alejo Ocasio Venerio, 31, of Puerto Rico, and Franklyn Grullon Jorge, 44, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, on Thursday, charging them both with transporting illegal aliens on their vessel, U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert announced on Friday.
The indictment stems from an incident on Jan. 12, when federal agents observed the defendants boarding seven illegal nationals from India onto their vessel for the purpose of transporting them to Puerto Rico, Shappert said. Under federal law, the men face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.
Shappert reminds the public that an indictment is merely a formal charging document and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty, she said.