Coast Guard repatriates 16 Cuban migrants

Coast Guard Cutter Knight Island

USCG file photo

MIAMI — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Knight Island repatriated 16 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, Monday.

The Knight Island crew interdicted a go-fast vessel approximately 19 miles west of Orange Cay, Bahamas, Saturday. Aboard the 33-foot vessel were 17 Cuban migrants and three suspected smugglers.

The three suspected smugglers were transferred to Customs and Border Protection officials, while the vessel was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Miami, Dec. 26. One migrant was transferred to CBP officials in Key West, Fla., for further processing.

“Migrant smuggling is illegal and extremely dangerous,” said Capt. Steven Banks, Seventh Coast Guard District chief of enforcement. “These ventures involve high-speed, erratic maneuvers aboard overcrowded vessels with insufficient safety equipment. Attempting to illegally enter the U.S. from the maritime domain threatens the lives of everyone involved.”

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

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

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