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Puerto Rico firefighter accused in illegal migration case

May 19, 2022 GMT

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A firefighter lieutenant has been accused of transporting and harboring migrants who entered Puerto Rico illegally, federal authorities announced Thursday.

Pedro Rafael Rodríguez Garnier, 54, allegedly met and transported multiple migrants in the island’s southwest in August 2019 and offered them food and shelter in exchange for money.

A federal grand jury indicted him Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.

Marcos Concepción, designated commissioner for Puerto Rico’s Fire Department, said he immediately ordered Rodríguez’s suspension.

“These are very serious accusations,” Concepción said.

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 as they flee poverty and violence.