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Puerto Rico firefighter accused in illegal migration case

Posted at 7:32 AM, May 20, 2022

A firefighter lieutenant in Puerto Rico has been accused of transporting and harboring migrants who entered the U.S. territory illegally.

Fifty-four-year-old Pedro Rafael Rodríguez Garnier is alleged to have met and transported multiple migrants in the island’s south in August 2019 and offered them food and shelter in exchange for money. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says a federal grand jury indicted him Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney. The head of Puerto Rico’s Fire Department says he immediately ordered Rodríguez’s suspension. The department said the charges included "very serious accusations."

The accusation comes amid a spike in migrants from Haiti and the Dominican Republic trying to illegally reach the U.S. territory aboard human smuggling boats.

Among them, a boat carrying dozens of suspected migrants capsized off the coast of Puerto Rico last week, killing 11.