Air and Marine Operations Crews Intercept Migrant Smuggling Vessel in Florida Keys

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations (AMO) agents, along with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and Monroe County EMS service partners, worked a migrant interdiction south of the Florida Keys on Tuesday evening—leading to the interdiction of 15 Cuban migrants on a small vessel.

An AMO aircrew onboard a Multi-Role Enforcement aircraft received information of a go-fast vessel originating out of Cuba and headed north. The crew spotted the vessel south of Islamorada, Florida headed north toward the Florida Keys. The crew requested assistance from AMO Marine agents, who launched multiple vessels from both the Marathon and Key Largo Marine Units to intercept. The U.S. Coast Guard station in Islamorada was notified as well. AMO agents interdicted 15 migrants on a small vessel.

AMO Marine agents successfully intercepted and stopped the go-fast vessel approximately 10 miles south of Islamorada, and discovered a total of 15 Cuban migrants on board. One migrant was in distress and suffering from apparent dehydration. One of the AMO crews took the dehydrated migrant back to the dock in Islamorada, where Monroe County Fire Rescue EMT’s treated the migrant on scene. The migrant was subsequently returned to the group. AMO crews made arrangements with USCG Sector Key West to have a USCG Cutter rendezvous with the crews, in order to transfer the migrants to the larger vessel.

Later, all the migrants were transferred to a USCG Cutter for identification and repatriation. The migrant vessel was transported to the USCG station in Islamorada for evidence collection and seizure. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is conducting follow on investigations.

“This event is a great example of why an integrated strategy is successful,” said Southeast Region Executive Director John Priddy. “I am proud of the work our crews did today.”