Coast Guard Intercepts, Repatriates 88 Cubans

MIAMI – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Knight Island repatriated 88 undocumented Cuban migrants from four separate interdiction’s to Bahia de Cabanas, Cuba, Wednesday.

A Good Samaritan located a homemade kayak with two Cuban migrants 25 miles south of Islamorada, Fla., Friday. The Coast Guard was notified and a crew from Station Islamorada rescued the two from the homemade vessel.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Sawfish stopped a rustic vessel, made of tin with plastic and wood trim, with 14 male and five female Cuban migrants 50 miles south of Dry Tortuga, Fla., Friday. The 19 migrants were transferred to the cutter.

An Air National Guard helicopter crew conducting counter-narcotic operations in support of Coast Guard missions located a rustic vessel with seven Cuban men and one woman during a routine flight about 22 miles south of Key West, Fla., Saturday. The Coast Guard Cutter Decisive arrived on scene and rescued the migrants.

The crew of a Coast Guard HC-130 aircraft located a 35-foot go-fast vessel with four outboard engines carrying 59 migrants and two suspected smugglers heading toward the U.S. Saturday. With support of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Citation aircraft, the vessel was monitored until the Coast Guard Cutters Key Biscayne and Sitkinak and Coast Guard Station Key West interdicted the vessel. The suspected smugglers maintained their speed of 25 to 35 mph and failed to heave-to when Coast Guard law enforcement officers ordered the vessel to stop. After repeated warnings, specially trained Coast Guard officers used disabling fire on the engines to stop safely the vessel. All the migrants were transferred to a cutter and the suspected smugglers were transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Coast Guard also detained 15 suspected smugglers during four separate cases. Coast Guard units enforce regulations involving unauthorized entry into Cuban territorial waters.

Any vessel or vessel assimilated as stateless, less that 328 feet in length, may not depart the U.S.12 mile territorial seas and travel to Cuba without a permit. Penalties for violating these regulations can result in fines, imprisonment, vessel seizure and forfeiture and denial of export privileges.

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