U.S. border authorities intercepted a boat carrying over two dozen migrants and suspected human smugglers off the coast of Florida on Friday.
A Coast Guard cutter crew, along with Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (CBP AMO) agents, apprehended 25 foreign nationals on-board a 25-foot pleasure craft roughly 10 miles east of Palm Beach.
The vessel’s occupants were identified as 23 Haitian migrants – 15 males and 8 females – and two Bahamian men believed to be human smugglers.
One of the females was transferred to another Coast Guard ship for medical attention during the interdiction.
The remaining 22 Haitians were repatriated, and the suspected smugglers were transferred into CBP custody and now face felony charges.
Update: Two smugglers from the #Bahamas were identified in this event and will be prosecuted on #felony charges. Great teamwork by our Agents at the West Palm Beach Station and #HSI partners. pic.twitter.com/GumgSIDha0
— Chief Patrol Agent John R. Modlin (@USBPChiefMIP) October 12, 2020
“I’m proud of my crew and the collaboration between Station Lake Worth Inlet and CBP AMO involved in these cases,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jane Sarnecky. “They ensured the safety of all 23 migrants and 2 human smugglers in a fluid and dynamic environment in which migrant condition and weather quickly deteriorated.”
“If you are considering taking part in an illegal voyage do not take to the sea, you are risking your life and the lives of everyone else aboard. The Florida Straits are dangerous and unforgiving, especially in the case of grossly overloaded and unseaworthy boats with inadequate lifesaving equipment aboard.”
The Coast Guard says it apprehended at least 418 Haitians attempting illegal entry into the U.S. during Fiscal Year 2020, which ended on Sept. 30.
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