Three people recently plucked from the waters between Florida and Cuba by a passing Disney cruise ship will be back in New Orleans soon to face accusations of credit card fraud.
Luis Rivera Garcia, 26; Juliet Estrada Perez, 23; and Jesus Enrique Gonzalez, 23, declined to contest their extradition to New Orleans at a hearing Monday in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hunt in Key West, Florida, court records show.
They are tentatively scheduled to stand trial in federal court in New Orleans on May 31.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested Rivera, Estrada, Gonzalez and three others in early August after a cashier examining the pumps at a Harahan gasoline station discovered two so-called credit card skimmers.
Prosecutors say the Florida-based group encoded stolen credit card numbers onto counterfeit gift and prepaid debit cards before being caught.
They were indicted by a federal grand jury in October and posted bail. Two of the six charged in the case — Yiliam Torres, 24, and Yoetnis Vazquez Pedrosa, 31 — have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
Rivera and Estrada were arrested and released in Florida on similar fraud charges earlier this month.
They and Gonzalez were attempting to reach Cuba last week when their boat capsized, leading to their rescue by the cruise ship and recapture, authorities said. As Cuban nationals, they likely would have been beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement had they made it to the island.
Rivera, Estrada and Gonzalez are slated to appear at a pretrial detention hearing in New Orleans, though the date for it apparently has not been set.
On Tuesday, the defendants’ attorney, Stavros Panagoulopoulos, said his clients moved to Tampa, Florida, from Cuba some years ago “seeking relief from a dictatorial regime” but found that the education they had was of little use in the United States.
“They had a difficult time (earning) a living wage,” Panagoulopoulos said. “Their lives ... were pretty difficult.”