A crew member on a Florida Keys commercial fishing vessel was arrested this week after federal agents discovered he had been detained and ordered removed from the United States six times since the 1990s.
Jose Manuel Avena-Betancourt, 39, was one of two Mexican citizens working on a boat based at Keys Fisheries in Marathon who are not legally allowed to work in the country, according to a U.S. Border Patrol complaint.
The boat was stopped at sea off Big Pine Key by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Nov. 1 complaint says. The Coast Guard patrol boat escorted the fishing vessel back to the Florida Keys Fisheries marina, where they were met by the Border Patrol, Agent Salomon Orozco wrote in his report.
Agents interviewed Avena-Betancourt and two other men who are from Mexico. One of the men had all his proper paperwork showing he was legally allowed to work in the United States. Avena-Betancourt and the other crewman did not.
Agents discovered Avena-Betancourt had been arrested for being in the country illegally six times going back to 1995 in Los Angeles. He was also caught in 2000 in Marathon, 2002 in Blythe, California, again in Marathon in 2010, in Brownsville, Texas, in 2010 and in the Monroe County jail in Key West in 2014.
That time, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office released him “prior to the order of removal being initiated,” Orozco wrote in his report.
The complaint also states Avena-Betancourt has a prior “aggravated felony conviction” that was punishable by more than a year in prison. The Border Patrol in Marathon could not immediately be reached to explain the felony charge.
A search of federal records from all the court districts from where Avena-Betancourt has been detained turns up various people with his last name, but no one with his full name.