GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WKBW) — Investigators have found that a personal watercraft that became stuck was being used in an attempt to smuggle two individuals into the U.S. just off the shore of Grand Island.
At 9:32 am, U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Buffalo Station found three individuals, Wanderson Dos Santos-Freitas, the operator, Angelo Valentim-Zuccolotto and Andria Raposo-Marte stranded on a jet-ski that that stalled when the intake filled with ice near the southern portion of Beaver Island State Park. Two of the individuals were able to walk across the ice and reach the shore while the other had to be rescued using ropes and small inflatable rescue crafts by the Grand Island Fire Department.
Investigators say Santos-Freitas of the watercraft was a citizen of Brazil and current resident of Canada. Valentim-Zuccolotto is a citizen of Brazil and Raposo-Marte is a citizen of the Domincan Republic and were allegedly being smuggled into the U.S illegally.
According to officials, the individuals were checked out by paramedics on scene and were then taken into custody. They were taken to the Buffalo Border Patrol Station for processing. The case is now being turned over to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
"I commend out agents for apprehending this smuggling attempt and our local partner agencies which responded and provided support and assistance" Patrol Agent Jeffrey Wilson from the Buffalo Border Patrol Station said.
In addition to Grand Island Fire Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Air and Marine Operations provided air support.
Santos-Freitas appeared in front of a judge in court for the first time Thursday afternoon. He faces a prison sentence of three to 10 years and a $250,000 fine. He will appear again in court for a hearing on Monday.