Coast Guard repatriates 13 Cuban migrants

MIAMI — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Pea Island repatriated 13 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, Sunday.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Pea Island interdicted a rustic vessel with 11 Cuban migrants aboard approximately 53 miles south of Marquesas, Fla., Wednesday. Aboard the rustic vessel were nine male and two female migrants.

A good Samaritan notified the Coast Guard stating he was on scene with a Cuban migrant in the water near Duck Key, Fla., Wednesday. A second person was located in the water off Long Key, Fla. A smallboat crew from Coast Guard Station Marathon, Fla., was launched and recovered both persons. The second person stated he left Cuba 11 days prior with two other people in a 19-foot foam-type vessel. He later changed his story and said he left Cuba with six others.

A third Cuban migrant was located on Conch Key, Fla., and taken into custody by Customs and Border Protection officials. He told officials he was with a group of six others who left Cuba.

The Coast Guard Cutter Sawfish, Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon jet crews from Air Station Miami, MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews and HC-130 Hercules aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla., along with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boatcrews conducted searches in the waters near where the migrants were found. Border Patrol vehicular units also conducted multiple searches on land. After an exhaustive, multi-day search covering more than 1,000 square miles, the active search was called off.

Once aboard Coast Guard cutters, all migrants are provided with food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

The Pea Island is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Key West.

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