Coast Guard continues patrols despite severe weather

MIAMI – Despite heavy weather U.S. Coast Guard crews continued interdicting illegal migrants and disrupting migrant smuggling ventures during the weekend.

A Good Samaritan vessel located five Cuban migrants on a rustic vessel 10 miles east of Kay Largo, Fla., Saturday. Crewmembers from Coast Guard Station Islamorada, Fla., recovered the migrants and later transferred them to the Cutter Shamal.

Crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus interdicted a yola (boat) with five Dominican Republic nationals on board 45 miles northwest Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

Two suspected smugglers on board a go-fast vessel were detained by crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter Diligence 44 miles southeast of Islamorada. The pair of suspected smugglers were turned over to Customs and Border Protection officials.

Later that afternoon, crews from the Diligence disrupted a suspected migrant smuggling attempt nine miles off Muertos Cay, Bahamas. Two suspects aboard a go-fast were detained and later released.

Finally, an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico, and the Matinicus pursued a go-fast vessel with two suspected smugglers on board into Dominican Republic territorial seas. The suspects beached their vessel and evaded authorities once ashore.

“Attempts to enter the United States illegally from the sea are inherently dangerous,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris O’Neil, public affairs officer for the Seventh Coast Guard District, “and the rough seas and heavy weather we saw this weekend only increases the risk of death or serious injury. The ocean is an unforgiving environment and conditions can deteriorate rapidly. There is a controlled, safe, and legal means of migration to the United States so there is no reason to risk life and limb in these ill-advised transits.”

Since January 2007, the Coast Guard has successfully interdicted 819 Cuban, 866 Dominican and 315 Haitian migrants.

The Cutter Shamal is a 179-foot Cyclone-Class coastal patrol boat homeported in Pascagoula, Miss.

Matinicus is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Diligence is a 210-medium endurance cutter homeported in Wilmington, N.C.

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