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Miami Charter Boat and Crew Missing

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by CaptainSilva, Sep 25, 2007.

  1. CaptainSilva

    CaptainSilva Senior Member

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    I came across this story on the internet today and thought that maybe some fellow YF readers might either know the boat, people, or story. The boat, Joe Cool, was out of Miami, FL. The link is below

    Boat crew vanishes; mystery deepens

    (edited to insert boat name)
  2. CaptTom

    CaptTom Senior Member

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    Unfortunately I don't think this is going to have a good outcome. All the details point to something bad going to happen/happened.
    First, guy charters boat for $4000 in cash, all $20's. Says he wants ride to Bimini to hook up with girls. Captain thinks easy enough job, let's do it. Has three other crew on board, planning to do soime fishing on way back. I believe the boat is also a Buddy Davis, not cheap (maybe guy wanted boat)and handles the seas. Only two charter people found in life raft. Way off course. Find out one is on the lam, running from FBI for stealing $92K from Wal-Mart earlier this year. Guy either planned to hook up with others on the seas, or ditched crew and headed for Cuba and didn't make it. Couldn't go by plane since fed's looking for him.
    Heart goes out for crew, innocent victims most likely.
    This deal is all bad. Charter captains, know who it is you are taking out.
  3. CaptTom

    CaptTom Senior Member

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  4. CTdave

    CTdave Senior Member

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    Scumbags:mad: Rot in HELL.
    I bet they ran out of fuel & didn't know how to switch over to other tanks.
  5. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    This is pretty strange to me, a thief continuing to be a murderer and then just abandon the yacht without sinking it? And finally telling his real name on top of this.?

    Not a good plan, why I would not give up on finding the crew alive. But the Coast Guard must know more I guess...
  6. CaptTom

    CaptTom Senior Member

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    Update from today's (Sept 26) Sun Sentinel:

    The four vanished crewmembers of the Joe Cool were shot and killed one by one by hijackers and tossed into the ocean, one of two surviving passengers claimed in documents filed in Miami federal court on Wednesday.

    U.S. officials, though, have expressed doubts about the veracity of the passenger, who has been in federal custody since being plucked from an orange life raft on Monday.

    Guillermo Zarabozo, 19, and Kirby Archer, 25, have been charged, respectively, with making a false statement to a federal agent and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

    U.S. Coast Guard officials found the fishing boat that had been transporting them drifting and in disarray near the Cal Say Bank, about 30 miles from Cuba and more than 100 miles from its destination. Among the evidence investigators found were Zarabozo's identification card, marijuana cigarettes, a handcuff key, and what appeared to be blood at the boat's stern. There was no sign of the crew.

    Zarabozo's account of the ill-fated trip was included in the criminal complaints lodged against him and Archer in U.S. District Court in Miami.

    He reportedly told a Coast Guard investigator that hijackers boarded the Joe Cool, a sports fishing boat, and immediately shot and killed Capt. Jake Branam, 27. The invaders then shot the captain's wife, Kelley Sue Branam, 30, because she became hysterical, Zarabozo said.

    The hijackers told a crewmember to throw the bodies into the water, Zarabozo said . When the crewmember refused, he was shot and killed. The remaining crewmember was also shot and killed when he refused to perform the same task. Zarabozo said he did as he was told.

    Later, after U.S. Coast Guard officials picked him up, Zarabozo said he did not recognize the Joe Cool on two occasions even though his identification card was found onboard.
  7. CaptainSilva

    CaptainSilva Senior Member

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    I'm sorry but this whole story stinks to me. I mean, if you're going to kill four crew members of a boat, why not kill all six? My point is, what made these two guys so lucky that these "hijackers" let them go and not the rest of the people on the boat? Not to mention they were supposedly put into a liferaft with all their luggage and belongings. Please. Other than a monetary bribe from Archer, it just doesn't make much sense to me.
  8. CTdave

    CTdave Senior Member

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    In the future, if I ever see a life raft with people in it, I will call the USCG & stand by, far from the raft. It could be people like this:mad:
  9. Castlerock

    Castlerock Senior Member

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    That is a sad reallity of the world we live in.


    I am wondering that if they said they were hijacked if they still had the money in their possession.

    Also did they have a gun in the raft too?
  10. CTdave

    CTdave Senior Member

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    CNN just reported the search & rescue has been cancelled.
    Very sad situation
  11. Neil Rooney

    Neil Rooney Senior Member

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  12. CaptainSilva

    CaptainSilva Senior Member

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    Anyone have any news on this story? It seemed to stop dead cold.:confused: ..
  13. CaptTom

    CaptTom Senior Member

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    Here's info as of 5 Oct. from CNN:

    MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Family of the missing crew members of the Joe Cool fishing boat found a fourth bullet casing on the boat and turned it over to the FBI, a relative said.
    The FBI is investigating whether two men who hired the boat -- Kirby Archer and Guillermo Zarabozo -- killed the four-member crew.
    Jeffrey Branam, the uncle of the boat's captain, told CNN the casing was found on the Joe Cool fishing boat by his son and a crew member while the FBI was returning the boat to them Thursday.
    "We had to prep the boat and fill it with fuel to get to the engine, " Branam told CNN. "To get to the hatch, we had to move the furniture and when we moved the couch, we found the casing."

    FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said the agents who were there removed the 9 mm casing -- the same size as three others that were found.

    Orihuela said when the boat was first searched, it did not appear the couch was movable.
    At a bond hearing Monday for two men who are under investigation in the case, authorities said they recovered three other casings. They said two of the casings were found inside the boat's cabin.
    "Now you have four casings and four people [presumed] dead," Branam said.
    Branam said it did not appear to him that anyone tried to sink the abandoned boat. Federal agents have said it was a mess when they found it.

    About 10 miles away from where the boat was found, the Coast Guard found Archer and Zarabozo aboard one of the Joe Cool's life rafts.
    The two men, who had paid $4,000 cash almost two weeks ago to charter the boat for a one-way trip to the Bahamas, are being held without bond.

    Archer is charged with unlawful flight on an Arkansas warrant, accused of stealing more than $90,000 in cash from a Wal-Mart where he once worked.
    His traveling companion, Zarabozo, a 19-year-old licensed security guard, is charged with lying to a federal agent.
    Archer and Zarabozo said the Joe Cool was attacked by three Cuban hijackers who shot the four crew members. Zarabozo said he was ordered to throw the bodies overboard.
    On Tuesday, a judge said he believes circumstantial evidence shows four homicides took place.

    A Coast Guard agent said two bullet casings and suspected blood were discovered inside the cabin, despite Zarabozo's assertion that the four crew members were shot outside the cabin. A third bullet casing was found outside the cabin, he said.

    "Your theory is [Archer and Zarabozo] killed the four?" the judge asked the assistant U.S. attorney at the bond hearing. "Yes, your honor," the prosecutor replied.
    Arraignment is set for next week. The men are not charged with murder.

    The Coast Guard spent five days searching for Capt. Jake Branam, his wife Kelly, Jake's half brother Scott Gamble and first mate Samuel Kairy.
    Saturday morning, relatives of the crew will stage a memorial at sea near the Port of Miami. Four air horns will sound in memory of the four crew members.
    "It's difficult," Branam said. "Some relatives still think the four are alive and are still searching for them."
    He said they've removed the name of the boat from the stern and will retire the name from their charter fishing business. They will likely retire the boat, too.
    Referring to Archer and Zarabozo, Branam said: "I'd like to use them as shark bait."
  14. CaptainSilva

    CaptainSilva Senior Member

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    The two men found in the raft are being charged with the killings...


    Here's the latest as of 10/10/07,


    MSNBC
  15. airship

    airship Senior Member

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    This is a very sad story. I'd just like to express sincere condolences to the families of the crew.

    But there are some wider implications that this case highlights.

    This was a small charter boat, outward-bound on a voyage to an International destination (I think that's the right term). Where was the security? Presumably, there would have been more security precautions involved had the charterer embarked at a foreign port and was entering US waters?

    But it does draw attention to the point that there are not usually any physical inspections of those coming aboard charter yachts as guests whatsoever (regardless of the size of the yacht). In Europe, charter yachts may embark charter guests almost anywhere in the Mediterranean during a cruise, and visit any number of sensitive ports on the European mainland almost without question. Are the guests searched before coming aboard, is their baggage examined?!

    Yet, we've all heard about so-called "suitcase-sized" nuclear devices.

    I guess that if a "Mr. Bin Laden" was ever to actually charter a large motor yacht under his own name, wishing to voyage across the Atlantic because it would be an experience of a lifetime, he'd probably be allowed to do so. Or at least make it so far as Bermuda or the Bahamas. Where any number of smaller Florida-based charter boats would be glad to do the trip for a few thousand dollars in cash...?! :eek:
  16. CTdave

    CTdave Senior Member

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    Valid points which should be considered

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