On Tuesday, June 3, a freighter of recent Panamanian registry landed at Key West, Florida, with 731 Cuban refugees on board. This boat was chartered by Cuban Americans apparently in direct violation of my order that the private boat flotilla from Cuba cease.
Any person who attempts to circumvent this order will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Any shipowner, captain, or crewmember agreeing to travel from U.S. or foreign ports to Cuba to take refugees to the United States in violation of American immigration law will face the most severe penalties under the law. Ships engaged in such efforts will be seized regardless of the nation of registry. Ship captains will face criminal prosecutions and maximum civil fines. Those who charter boats for these purposes will also face criminal prosecution.
The penalties for aiding and abetting a conspiracy to smuggle aliens into the United States include prison sentences of up to 5 years and fines up to $2,000 per alien brought to the United States.
The captain of the freighter, the Red Diamond, and those responsible for chartering her services have been charged under these statutes. I have instructed the Justice Department to prosecute these cases vigorously.
There should be no misunderstanding of my intention. Illegal boat traffic in refugees is unacceptable to the United States. It will be stopped. Those. who attempt to evade this order will pay very severe penalties under our laws.