Coast Guard Interdicts 88 Migrants, 7 Smugglers

MIAMI – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Pea Island repatriated 88 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cubanas, Cuba, Tuesday who were interdicted in separate incidents aboard three go-fast vessels and a raft.

An HU-25 Falcon jet crew from Coast Guard Air Station Miami located a go-fast vessel while conducting a law enforcement patrol Jan. 1. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Legare was notified and interdicted the vessel 26 miles southeast of Marathon, Fla., using its over-the-horizon small boat. The 35-foot go-fast was carrying 31 migrants. Two suspected smugglers were detained and transferred to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

The crew of the motor vessel Living Large located a disabled 28-foot go-fast vessel with 37 people aboard about 15 miles east of Haulover Inlet Jan. 1. People on the go-fast requested the Living Large crew to not notify the Coast Guard, but the Living Large crew did the right thing and notified the Coast Guard. An HH-65C Dolphin helicopter arrived on scene shortly thereafter as did a small boat crew Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The operator of the go-fast vessel stated to the Coast Guard the migrants aboard his boat were from two rafts he encountered. The Coast Guard crew transferred 35 Cuban migrants and two suspected smugglers to a Coast Guard cutter. The two suspected smugglers and the go-fast vessel were later transferred to CBP officials.

Coast Guard Station Key West, Fla., interdicted a rustic migrant raft carrying five people after a Good Samaritan notified the Coast Guard Dec. 31. The station crew located the five migrants about five miles east of Sugarloaf Key, Fla. One migrant was transferred to CBP officials in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Also on Dec. 31, the cruise ship Carnival Legend located 21 people on a disabled and adrift go-fast vessel 55 miles northwest of Cabo san Antonio, Cuba. The captain of the cruise ship notified the Coast Guard and was given the option of remaining on scene until a cutter could arrive about 10 hours later or embark the stranded migrants and continue their voyage. The captain chose to continue their voyage to Belize and Honduras and meet up with a cutter later in the week. The Coast Guard Cutter Knight Island rendezvoused Saturday with the cruise ship as it was heading to Tampa. The 18 migrants and three suspected smugglers stated they had been adrift for 11 days. The three suspected smugglers were transferred to CBP officials in Key West.

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