BOSTON - A man was arrested and charged in federal court Monday in connection with the murder of a crew member on board a Seaford-based fishing boat off the coast of Massachusetts.
According to the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Massachusetts, 27-year-old Franklin Freddy Meave Vazquez was charged with one count of murder within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States and one count of attempted murder within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
The charging document says on September 23, the fishing vessel, identified as the Captain Billy Haver, was sailing approximately 55 miles off the Massachusetts coast with seven crew members on board, including Vazquez.
The document alleges that at some point in the afternoon, Vazquez assaulted another crew member on board with a hammer in one hand and a knife in the other. The victim then saw that another crew member was lying on the deck while bleeding.
Vazquez was said to have then struck a third crew member. The document further alleges that he climbed up the mast of the ship as other people on board the boat tried to capture him.
The ship's captain supposedly placed an emergency call on the distress channel, to which the German cruise ship the Mein Schiff 6 responded and took two members on board. The ship's doctor pronounced one of the victims dead.
Petty Officer Andrew Barresi of the Boston District 1 Office told News 3 the Captain Billy Haver is based in Seaford. The fishing trawler, the cruise ship and a Coast Guard cutter then headed to Boston after the incident.
Court documents say Vazquez is a Mexican national who is illegally in the United States. On March 9, 2018, the DOJ says he was arrested in Newport News for abduction by force, intimidation or deception. He was later released on bond.
On Tuesday, representatives with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said Vazquez was previously in ICE custody after his Newport News arrest and despite the agency's objections, he was granted bond by an immigration judge. ICE had to release him once he posted bond.
ICE provided the following statement on Vazquez's case Tuesday:
Franklyn Freddy Meave-Vazquez, 27, is a Mexican national illegally present in the U.S. ICE encountered Meave-Vazquez at the Newport News City Jail in Virginia through its Criminal Alien Program in March 2018 after he was arrested by the Newport News Police Department on forcible abduction charges, which are still pending. He entered ICE custody upon release from the local jail.
Despite ICE’s objections, an immigration judge granted Meave-Vazquez bond. ICE released him from custody April 27 after he posted bond.
ICE lodged a detainer Sept. 25 after Meave-Vazquez’s most recent arrest for murder. His immigration case is ongoing. ICE is closely monitoring his case to ensure he no longer poses a public safety threat.
Vazquez faces up to life in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for the murder charge. He faces no more than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for the attempted murder charge.
The DOJ says Vazquez will be subject to deportation proceedings upon completion of any sentence he is given.
The details in the charging documents are allegations, and Vazquez is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts said Vazquez will appear in federal court in Boston Wednesday at 11 a.m.