Coast Guard, partner agencies intercept human smuggling event

45-foot Response Boat – Medium (U.S. Coast Guard File photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew S. Masaschi)

45-foot Response Boat – Medium (U.S. Coast Guard File photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew S. Masaschi)

MIAMI – The Coast Guard completed a transfer of 24 people involved in a suspected human smuggling case Saturday to U.S. Border Patrol agents in Lake Worth for processing, and to Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.

The Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet, Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations intercepted a 25-foot center console boat approximately 9 miles east of West Palm Beach.

The suspected smugglers are reportedly one U.S. citizen and one Bahamian. The passengers included six Haitians, six Ecuadorians, four Chinese, three Bolivians, two Azerbaijanis and one Dominican.

“The Coast Guard, along with our federal and state partners, will continue to target, interdict and prosecute smugglers trying to reach the United States undetected” said Capt. Mark Vlaun, Coast Guard 7th District staff judge advocate.

Approximately 45 miles separate the South Florida and Bahamian coasts. The area in between is constantly patrolled by the Coast Guard, and Air and Marine Operations partners to detect, deter and stop illegal smuggling ventures.

“These human smuggling networks continuously attempt to exploit our proximity to the Bahamas and illegally traffic people to our shores,” said Capt. AlDante Vinciguerra, Coast Guard 7th District chief of response. “This case highlights the importance and strength of our cooperative border security efforts with all of our partners.”

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