St. John, Virgin Islands - Alain Rene Leichtnam, 71, a French national, was arrested April 30, 2015, on a criminal complaint charging him with encouraging and inducing aliens to enter the United States in violation of law, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe of the District of the Virgin Islands. 

Leichtnam made his initial appearance on May 1, 2015, and had his detention hearing today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller of the District of the Virgin Islands.  Judge Miller detained Leichtnam pending further proceedings and he was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

According to the complaint, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Air and Marine (OAM) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) intercepted a catamaran vessel, Mazurka, off of the coast of St. John, Virgin Islands, in the early morning hours of April 29, 2015.  The vessel was operated by Leichtnam and contained 38 Cuban nationals and one national of St. Lucia.  None of the individuals possessed the proper documents to lawfully enter the United States.  Encouraging and inducing aliens to enter the United States carries a sentence of not more than five years in prison and in the case of a violation in which the offense was done for the purpose of private financial gain, not more than 10 years’ imprisonment.

U.S. Attorney Sharpe reminds the public that a complaint is merely a formal charging document and is not evidence of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The  case  is  being  investigated  by  the  CBP,  OAM,  the  USCG and  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland  Security Investigations.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim L. Chisholm of the District of the Virgin Islands.