Two men were arrested in the Florida Keys Wednesday after they led authorities on a chase in a stolen boat they were planning to take to Cuba to smuggle people into the United States, authorities said.
The wild incident began after the boat, a 26-foot Robalo worth about $65,000 was stolen either later Tuesday or early Wednesday from a home on Sombrero Boulevard on Marathon, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.
The boat's owner realized it was missing around 2 a.m. Wednesday and called the sheriff's office.
A Customs and Border Protection boat, which was carrying a Monroe County Sheriff's Office detective and CBP agents, happened to be on patrol offshore of Marathon due to recent boat thefts in the area.
The CBP boat spotted the stolen boat near Boot Key and attempted to stop it, but it refused to stop, authorities said. At one point, the stolen vessel rammed the CBP boat, causing a crack in the stolen boat that caused it to take on water.
The stolen boat, which had several large drums of gasoline on board, was finally stopped and the two men were taken into custody.
Ledian Yusnier Acosta-Gonzalez, 29, was charged with grand theft with property damage, assault on a law enforcement officer, fleeing police in a boat, criminal mischief and a health and safety law violation for having the gasoline on the boat.
Dioselis Fuentes-Nodarse, 31, was charged with grand theft with property damage and a health and safety law violation.
Both men, who are from Las Vegas, were being held without bond Thursday and it was unknown whether they have attorneys.
Authorities said Acosta-Gonzalez and Fuentes-Nodarse said they took the boat and loaded it with gas and food for their journey to Cuba. They said they were planning to illegally smuggle five Cubans into the U.S., authorities said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-346-TIPS.
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