The Coast Guard interdicted 10 Haitian migrants, two Bahamian migrants and one suspected smuggler Nov. 27 approximately 12 miles east of Hillsboro Inlet.
The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge (WPC-1102) crew interdicted a westbound 25-foot Grady White pleasure craft with 13 people aboard. The cutter crew safely embarked seven Haitian males, three Haitian females, one Bahamian male and one female, along with the suspected smuggler, aboard the cutter.
“These illegal ventures attempting to immigrate to the United States are extremely dangerous, because weather and sea conditions can dramatically change and the vessels are not equipped with the required safety equipment for passenger operations putting lives at a higher risk of being lost at sea,” said Capt. Jason Ryan, chief of Coast Guard 7th District enforcement branch. “The Coast Guard and our partner agencies’ first priority is safety of life at sea while we also secure the Nation’s maritime border. Migrants caught attempting to gain access into the U.S. through these dangerously illegal undertakings voyages will be will be repatriated to their country in accordance with existing U.S. immigration policy.”
Two migrants and the suspected smuggler were transferred ashore into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody for potential prosecution. The remaining eight Haitian migrants were repatriated to Haiti and one of the Bahamian migrants was transferred to Bahamian authorities.
Approximately 467 Haitian migrants have attempted to illegally enter the U.S. via the maritime environment in fiscal year 2020, which began Oct. 1, 2019, compared to 3,704 Haitian migrants in fiscal year 2019. These numbers represent the total number of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean, and Atlantic.
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter, and basic medical attention.