2 men accused of trying to travel to Cuba to bring migrants back to South Florida

Fuel drums, satellite phone, GPS with waypoints to Cuba found inside boat, deputies say

From left: Victor Manuel Rios Castillo, 29, and Jorge Luis Fernandez Rodriguez, 53. (Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

MARATHON, Fla. – Two men were arrested Monday at a Marathon boat ramp after they tried to travel to Cuba and return to South Florida with migrants, authorities said.

According to Monroe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Adam Linhardt, deputies were notified shortly before 5 p.m. that a truck towing a boat was blocking southbound traffic near Mile Marker 56.

Linhardt said deputies later found the truck and trailer at the nearby Quay Boat Ramp.

The U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations also responded to the scene.

“The trailer had a flat tire and a damaged rim,” Linhardt said in a news release. “The cabin-style cruiser had three 55-gallon drums of fuel on board as well as a fuel transfer pump, satellite phone, a GPS with waypoints to Cuba, multiple gallons of marine oil, a large amount of water and soft drinks and numerous life jackets.”

According to Linhardt, Victor Manuel Rios Castillo, 29, of West Palm Beach, confessed that he was planning to travel to Cuba to pick up migrants and Jorge Luis Fernandez Rodriguez, 53, of Tampa, confessed that he was aware of the fuel drums in the boat he was towing.

Rios Castillo was subsequently arrested on a charge of attempted human smuggling while Fernandez Rodriguez was arrested on a charge of transporting fuel illegally.

(Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

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Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.