BELIZE CITY, Wed. May 2, 2018– All across the United States, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are cracking down on illegal “aliens”, deporting them in accordance with the campaign promise made during the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, who was elected president of that country in their November 2016 elections.
In January, ICE agents stopped at the Florida home of Belizean Steven “Insect” Reneau, picked him up and took him into custody to begin deportation proceedings. Reneau has been living in the US illegally for a number of years. Reneau was not only living in the US illegally; he is also a convicted felon who had served two years in a federal prison.
Reneau was sentenced to two years for conspiracy to import cocaine into the US. The lenient sentence came after he entered into a plea bargain agreement and assisted US federal agents in connection with drug shipments that were coming from Belize, and in the breaking up of money laundering operations.
In July 2005, the Associated Press published an article in the Miami Herald, in which it was stated that Reneau, 46, a “drug trafficker,” was arrested at Miami International Airport after his flight landed. Apparently, Reneau was under surveillance by federal agents.
Reneau, according to US authorities, was connected with the operations of the alleged Andrew “Papa” Brown cartel operating out of Belize, the Herald article reported. Reneau was reportedly connected to a shipment of 43 tons of cocaine that was seized at Port Everglades, Florida, in 1999. He was facing a US indictment for conspiracy to import cocaine into the US, and was being held at the Federal Detention Center, said Barbara Gonzalez, an ICE spokeswoman. The investigation into Reneau’s drug smuggling connection was led by ICE, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Reneau decided to cooperate with federal agents in their investigation, and began secretly recording his Belizean contacts, thereby assisting US authorities to build evidence to support an extradition request from the US to the Belize Government for the Brown brothers, Andrew and Floyd.
The US followed through with the extradition request in 2005 for Andrew and Floyd Brown, who were indicted in 2003 by a US grand jury in South Florida, and were arrested and charged in Belize with six felony offences under US law.
The brothers were charged with conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States; importation of cocaine into the U.S; aiding and abetting the importation of cocaine; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine; possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and aiding and abetting conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute.
The Browns were tied to a bust made by ICE in 1999, when Luis Renia was searched by ICE agents in Florida and was found to be carrying 42 pounds of cocaine in two bags.
The Brown brothers were able to put together a formidable legal team, comprising Dean O. Barrow, SC; Ellis Arnold, SC, and Dickie Bradley.
On the eve of Belize’s Independence Day in September 2005, the Brown brothers walked out of the Magistrate’s Court of Chief Magistrate Herbert Lord, freed of the extradition charges. The US case fizzled on technicalities after the attorneys were able to convince the court that the evidence that was presented against their clients was hearsay, and was not reliable because the identity of the person speaking in certain recordings could not be ascertained.
So, the Brown brothers remained in Belize, and Steve Reneau remained in Broward County, Florida, until January when ICE agents went to his house and took him away to begin the deportation process to send him back to Belize, because he had no legal status to be in the US.
Reneau’s wife was of the view that she would not set eyes on her husband again. She tried to comfort their two young children who kept asking her when “will daddy be home.” and she would answer that their daddy would be home soon.
Jack Devaney, the ICE agent with whom Reneau had cooperated (provided assistance in the investigation of the Brown brothers), was already retired, after being on the job for 25 years.
Devaney is quoted by the NBC affiliate, Channel 6, as saying that he believes in the US president’s position that a wall must be built to prevent illegal immigration and that criminals from other countries should be deported. He also believes that the US government should keep its promise to persons who risk their lives to provide assistance to the US.
Devaney remembers Steve Reneau, and how he (Devaney) intercepted 20 kilos of cocaine before it could get to Reneau’s apartment in North Miami Beach. The ICE agent turned up at Reneau’s apartment with his partners and showed him fake cocaine, asking him if it was his. It took Reneau 10 to 15 minutes to make up his mind to work with the Feds.
“Devaney estimated that Reneau, over six years, helped them locate a Belizean fugitive, convict money launderers, and provided enough other intelligence to support dozens of deportations to Belize.
“Technically, we made an agreement for him to work with us,” Devaney said.
In return, the Feds agreed to help Reneau get a visa, or green card. That did not happen, and the ICE agent, Devaney, went into retirement in 2012 without filing the necessary paperwork for Reneau’s case, which just continued to linger.
When Devaney learned that Reneau was being held for deportation to Belize, after he had contacted him, Devaney emailed the acting director of ICE, Thomas Homan, who responded to his email, promising to look into the Reneau deportation matter.
ICE agents subsequently returned Reneau to his home, to the surprise of his wife, who had felt that when he was taken away, she would never see him again.
Devaney also was of the view that Reneau would be killed if he is returned to Belize, and he told the NBC affiliate in Miami that in the end, he felt happy to have been able to keep the promise he had made to Reneau 18 years ago.