Migrant arrested days after arriving to Pompano Beach with 18 others

Willi Acevedo Garcia, 43, previously deported following criminal convictions in New York

(Broward Sheriff's Office/WPLG)

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – One of 19 migrants who arrived in Pompano Beach over the weekend has been arrested, U.S. Border Patrol officials confirmed Friday.

According to Chief Patrol Agent Walter N. Slosar, who heads the agency’s Miami sector, Willi Acevedo Garcia, 43, who is from the Dominican Republic, was previously deported after being convicted in New York of grand larceny, robbery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

He was arrested Thursday and is being held at the Broward County Main Jail without bond on a U.S. Marshals Office hold.

According to officials, the migrants arrived in South Florida early Sunday afternoon in a waterfront neighborhood along the Hillsborough River, near the Pompano Beach and Lighthouse Point border.

“I have a friend that lives on this street and he called me when I got home from work and said, ‘I’ve got people in my backyard climbing the fence,’” Harvey Villa, who lives nearby, told Local 10 News.

Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents responded to the scene, and the group was quickly detained.

Among the migrants were two children and two women who appeared to be pregnant.

“I was able to take a look inside the vessel and, not the best conditions -- there was about six to eight fuel drums under the front bow sitting there -- you could smell the fumes and the gasoline when you got on board. So likely a very dangerous journey at sea,” said Adam Hoffner, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

One witness recorded cellphone video of a BSO helicopter in the area and the group being placed into custody.

The incident is believed to be tied to a smuggling attempt, but whereabouts of the captain, or who was piloting the boat on the mission from the Caribbean, is still being investigated.

Acevedo Garcia is believed to be the only migrant on the boat who is from the Dominican Republic, with the 18 others believed to be from Haiti.

About the Authors:

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

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.