Tampa truck driver arrested after driving more than 30 Cuban migrants packed in boat, deputies say


(NBC News Channel)

TAMPA (WFLA) — A Seffner man was arrested Monday after authorities discovered more than 30 suspected Cuban migrants hiding in a boat he was driving in Marathon, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office said a sergeant was on patrol at 6 a.m. when he noticed a rental truck pulling a boat that was moving lower than the speed limit.

The sergeant performed a traffic stop on the vehicle and noticed a 1-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 5-year-old riding in the truck with no restraints or child seats. The sheriff’s office said the deputy also noticed the smell of body odor and seawater in the vehicle.

The driver, 29-year-old Reidel Garcia-Espino of Seffner, said they were fishing, but authorities said there was no fishing equipment in the boat.

Reidel Garcia-Espino of Seffner (NBC News Channel)

Instead, authorities found the 32 migrants hiding in the boat. Among the passengers in the boat were a 17-year-old and two pregnant women.

Authorities turned over the migrants to U.S. Customs and Border Protection while Garcia-Espino was taken to jail on a child neglect charge for not having restraints on the children. He may also face federal charges, according to the sheriff’s office.

Public records show that Espino works as a truck driver in Tampa.

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