Cruise Ship Worker Wanted to Smuggle Himself From Florida Into Canada, Court Documents Say

A cruise ship worker allegedly attempted to smuggle himself from Florida into Canada where he wanted to claim asylum, court documents say.

Fuwad Twalib Nassir, 29—a Kenyan national from Mombasa—had just started a new job aboard the Carnival Cruise Line vessel Liberty in Port Canaveral, Florida, ABC-affiliate WFTV Channel 9 reported.

But law enforcement authorities say he fled the ship in October just two weeks into the position to begin the long journey to Canada's border.

According to the Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York, Nassir entered U.S. territory at Port Canaveral via his C-1/D Crewmember in Transit visa—granted in April 2018—which was issued in connection to his job aboard the cruise vessel.

However, the U.S. Department of State canceled the visa on October 21 when he failed to return for work on the Liberty.

After jumping ship, Nassir was then driven by an in-law from Port Canaveral to New York state, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE.)

Once there, he allegedly tried to enter Canada at the Rainbow Bridge, which crosses the Niagara River gorge—connecting New York state and the Canadian province of Ontario.

The FDLE says Nassir told border staff that he wanted to seek asylum in Canada, but officials prevented him from entering. They then passed him on to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, who took him into custody.

He was then taken to a federal detention center before making a court appearance on Thursday in Brevard County, Florida, where Port Canaveral is located. Nassir has been charged with conspiracy to commit human smuggling.

It remains to be seen who will prosecute Nassir between the Brevard State Attorney's Office, the Seminole County State Attorney's Office and the Florida state prosecutors, WFTV reported.

Nassir's bond was set at $500,000. In the unlikely event that he can pay it, he will have to wear a GPS monitor as he is considered a flight risk by the state.

In March this year, Nassir had pleaded guilty before a judge in New York state to making a material false statement to law enforcement—a charge that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

After being detained by officials at the U.S.-Canadian border, Nassir told FBI investigators he had paid a stranger to drive to the Niagara crossing point. However, the FBI later found out that he had traveled to New York with three individuals he knew. Sentencing for this charge will take place in August.

Carnival Liberty
The Carnival Liberty Cruise ship docked at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images