Two Episcopal priests were convicted of violating federal law by transporting 411 undocumented Cubans to Florida during the 1980 Freedom Flotilla boatlift.
A third clergyman was acquitted.
The Rev. Joe Morris Doss, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in New Orleans, and his Cuban-born assistant, the Rev. Leopold Frade, were convicted of "trading with the enemy," but were acquitted of a conspiracy charge. They face 10 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.
A Methodist minister from Miami, the Rev. Roberto Perez, was found innocent of both charges. He argued in court that he went to Cuba with the others aboard a converted World War II submarine chaser named God's Mercy only in an effort to find relatives he had not seen since 1961.
Defense attorneys described their clients as courageous men and said their mission was to ensure the safety of Cubans who had indicated a desire to flee the communist-controlled island nation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Hammer argued the defendants knew they were breaking the law when they ferried the illegal aliens to U.S. shores after President Carter's May, 1980, ban on the boatlift.
After the ban, officials announced that violators would be prosecuted under the World War I-era "trading with the enemy" act.