54 migrants rescued at sea repatriated to Haiti

A crewmember aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Valiant lowers a child to a boatcrew during a repatriation off the coast of Haiti, June 16, 2015. Fifty-four Haitian migrants were interdicted south of St. John, Virgin Islands, aboard an overloaded sailing vessel on June 10. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A crewmember aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Valiant lowers a child to a boatcrew during a repatriation off the coast of Haiti, June 16, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

MIAMI — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Valiant repatriated 54 Haitian migrants to Cap Haitian, Haiti, Tuesday.

While on patrol, a Caribbean Air & Marine Branch aircraft reported a suspicious sailing vessel south of St. John, Virgin Islands, Wednesday. A boatcrew from Coast Guard Station San Juan, Puerto Rico, arrived on scene and provided life jackets to the suspected migrants aboard the grossly overloaded vessel. The Coast Guard Cutter Forward arrived on scene and safely embarked 54 Haitian migrants before transferring them to the Coast Guard Cutter Valiant for repatriation.  Two suspected smugglers were brought in for further investigation.

“This smuggling attempt unnecessarily put lives at great risk, including the lives of young children,” said Cmdr. Timothy Cronin, Coast Guard 7th District deputy chief of enforcement.”There have been no changes to U.S. immigration laws and the Coast Guard, along with its interagency partners, will seek to prosecute smugglers to the fullest extent of the law and promptly return illegal migrants to their respective county of origin.”

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

Coast Guard assets involved with this case are:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Valiant, 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Jacksonville, Florida
  • Coast Guard Cutter Forward, 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia
  • Boatcrew with Coast Guard Station San Juan, Puerto Rico

Since Oct. 1, the Coast Guard 7th District estimates that 2,231 Haitians, 2,700 Cubans and 468 Dominicans have attempted to illegally migrate via the sea. These numbers represent the total amount of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean and Atlantic.

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