U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations (AMO) agents, along with their partners, worked two early morning migrant interdictions in South Florida, leading to the arrest of 23 Haitian migrants near West Palm Beach, and 20 Cubans near Key West, all attempting to illegally enter the U.S.
Late Tuesday night, an AMO Multi-Role Enforcement aircraft crew on a border security patrol detected a vessel off the Florida coast that appeared to be overloaded and operating without navigational lights. The aircrew notified AMO Marine units, crews from West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and Ft. Pierce responded, and were joined by U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) interdiction vessels. Working together, agents jointly intercepted the suspect vessel approximately six miles offshore from the Boynton Beach area.
Upon activating emergency lights, the suspect vessel fled, and agents pursued. Eventually, the suspect vessel stopped and complied. Agents encountered a total of 23 illegal migrants on board. All vessel passengers were identified from Haiti. The migrants were detained and taken onboard US Coast Guard Cutter IBIS for identification and interviewing.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) was notified and responded to assist the ongoing investigation along with AMO and USCG.
In the second event, AMO agents were notified early Thursday by Key West officials that a large group of migrants had landed near the Southernmost Point monument. AMO Marine Interdiction Agents responded and joined U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents and members of the Key West Police Department in searching for the group. Working together, agents apprehended 20 Cuban nationals and USBP agents transported the migrants for processing. A small migrant vessel was located near the monument, and it sank as U.S. Coast Guard attempted to move it.
“This event is a great example of why border security and national security are a team effort. Air and Marine Operations possesses highly skilled agents with cutting edge capabilities. When we work together as part of a team with our colleagues at U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, and state and local partners in South Florida, all capabilities are multiplied, and we are tremendously successful”, said Southeast Region Executive Director John Priddy. “I am proud of the work our crews did in these events.”