Coast Guard Cutter Helps Stop Human Smuggling Attempts

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. – A local Coast Guard Cutter has interdicted three high-speed migrant smuggling vessels, or go-fasts, in the Florida Straights last week capping one of the highest tempo operational periods in the cutter’s recent history.

The Cutter Confidence participated in the interdiction of three suspected migrant smuggling vessels last week preventing 27 Cuban migrants from illegally entering the United States and apprehending four suspected migrant smugglers. All 27 of those migrant were taken back to Cuba by Coast Guard officials, and the suspected smugglers were handed over to proper investigative authorities.

During the crew’s most recent bust, the crew of a Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Dash-8 aircraft located a suspicious vessel, with a large number of people on board heading north, Sept. 5. The Coast Guard was notified and the crew of the Cutter Confidence pursued the vessel until a boat crew from Station Islamorada, Fla., interdicted the 28-foot vessel using disabling fire on the engines, 22 miles southeast of Key Largo, Fla.

Eleven males, six females, three children and the two suspected smugglers were transferred to the Confidence. Three days later, one female migrant needed medical attention and was taken to a hospital in Key West. Because she had no relatives aboard the vessel, the decision was made to allow her three children to be brought ashore and remain with her. Approximately four hours of being brought ashore, the female migrant made a complete recovery from her ailment and was released to CBP officials. The suspected smugglers were transferred to CBP officials in Islamorada.

A patrolling Coast Guard fixed-wing aircraft spotted another suspected go-fast Sept. 4 for the cutter’s second migrant smuggling interdiction. The suspected go-fast crew led the Coast Guardsmen on a high speed chase, but the cutter’s boat crew was able to stop the vessel. A boarding team from Confidence boarded the vessel, which appeared to be rigged for human smuggling. The vessel and suspected smugglers were transferred to CBP officials ashore for investigation.

The cutter’s embarked helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Miami spotted a suspected go-fast in Bahamian waters around Cay Sal Bank, Bahamas, Sept. 3 during a routine flight. Permission was granted by the Royal Bahamian Defense Forces to allow the Confidence to pursue the suspected go-fast vessel. The vessel was stopped and two illegal migrants and a suspected migrant smuggler were on the vessel’s deck. Five additional migrants were located in hidden compartments aboard the vessel.

Confidence is a 210-foot medium endurance Coast Guard cutter homeported in Port Canaveral, Fla. The 80-person crew of Confidence is currently on patrol and scheduled to return to home in October.

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