Three Cayman Airways employees who were arrested in early August 2015 on “suspicion of human smuggling” have lost their jobs.
Airline spokesperson Olivia Scott Ramirez confirmed Wednesday that the three “are no longer employed by Cayman Airways.”
However, nearly two years after their arrest in connection with the alleged smuggling of undocumented Cuban migrants into the U.S., no charges have been filed in the case, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officials have confirmed.
All three airline employees were released on police bail and nothing further was said publicly regarding the investigation, either by the RCIPS or by the Cayman Islands Immigration Department.
A statement from the RCIPS in response to questions from the Cayman Compass about why the investigation appeared to have gone silent, said, “The investigation has been progressed and a file was submitted to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for review. Recommendations were received and enquiries are continuing. The investigation has not been closed.”
The smuggling scheme, as described to the Compass by a number of sources, allegedly involved the suspects accepting payment in exchange for helping Cuban nationals reach the U.S.
The Cubans involved were in Cayman legally, either as visitors or on work permits, sources said.
Once they arrived in the U.S., the former immigration policy there known as “wet-foot, dry-foot” gave the Cubans preferential treatment. The policy meant Cubans who reached U.S. territory would get a “green card” – permanent residence – after a year and a day. The policy was rescinded in early January 2017 by outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama.
“This investigation involves foreign nationals who were legitimately here in Cayman and whose departure was facilitated with the use of false identities,” an RCIPS statement from 2015 said.
Human smuggling is defined by the Immigration Law as facilitating or helping with “the transportation, harboring or movement into or out of the Islands,” of someone without permission to be here. If convicted, a human smuggling charge can result in up to seven years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Cayman Airways, in a statement released following the arrest of two of its employees, said an internal investigation by the airline “resulted in CAL identifying and reporting to the relevant authorities, certain passenger movements which appeared to have been contrary to Immigration regulations.”
The statement continued, “Since that time, CAL has been fully cooperative and transparent with the relevant authorities as they conducted their investigations.”