SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A man caught twice prior for illegally entering the United States was found stowed away on a container ship headed to Savannah, officials say.
According to the U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine, Jamie Dagoberto Chavez-Guevara, 35, of El Salvador, was taken into custody Wednesday, April 3 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.
Christine says Chavez-Guevara was aboard the container ship Santa Linea in Savannah’s Port. He is charged with illegal entry and could face up to 15 years in federal prison.
Christine says according to court proceedings and documents, CBP had been notified Tuesday by the operator of the Santa Linea, that crew members had detained Chavez-Guevara after discovering him on board the ship without permission.
Chavez-Guevara told investigators that his girlfriend had sent $6,000 to his family in El Salvador, and he used the money to arrange for a smuggler to get him on board the Santa Linea while the ship was anchored in Panama.
It’s believed Chavez-Guevara was taken to the ship by a smuggler where he climbed the anchor chain to board the vessel through the anchor hatch.
The smuggler then showed him where he could hide until the ship docked in the U.S.
“Our office will ensure that those who repeatedly enter the United States illegally will be caught and prosecuted,” said Christine. “There is zero tolerance for those who break the law to get here, and they don’t get extra points for persistence or creativity.”
Authorities found that the stowaway had been deported in May 2017 from San Antonio, Texas, and again in January 2018 from Phoenix, Arizona, after he was convicted of illegal entry after prior removal — a felony.
The case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alejandro V. Pascual IV and Joseph McCool on behalf of the United States.