Coast Guard repatriates 23 migrants from 3 interdictions to Cuba

A Coast Guard Station Islamorada smallboat crew interdicts Cuban migrants near Key Largo, Florida, April 16, 2021. The migrants were repatriated to Cuba. (Coast Guard Photo)

A Coast Guard Station Islamorada smallboat crew interdicts Cuban migrants near Key Largo, Florida, April 16, 2021. (Coast Guard Photo)

KEY WEST, Fla. — Coast Guard Cutter Charles Sexton’s crew repatriated 23 Cuban migrants to Cuba, Tuesday.

In the first interdiction, a migrant vessel was located by a Coast Guard Station Islamorada small boat crew and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection marine unit, Wednesday, after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission personnel reported the migrant vessel being near Key Largo.

In the second interdiction, a Coast Guard Station Marathon small boat crew located a migrant vessel, Friday, after a Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane crew reported a 15-foot chug was approximately 36 miles southeast of Marathon.

In the third interdiction, the good Samaritan motor tanker Torm Thames crew located a migrant vessel 70 miles south of Key West.

Since Oct. 1, 2020, Coast Guard crews have interdicted 183 Cubans compared to:

5,396 Cuban migrants in Fiscal Year 2016
1,468 Cuban migrants in Fiscal Year 2017
259 Cuban migrants in Fiscal Year 2018
313 Cuban migrants in Fiscal Year 2019
49 Cuban migrants in Fiscal Year 2020

“We have seen an 80% increase in migration activity since January, relative to recent years,” said Capt. Adam Chamie, commander of Coast Guard Sector Key West. “In most cases, migrants to attempt to illegal enter the United States by boat often travel aboard unseaworthy, make-shift vessels. Most times, these vessels are dangerously overloaded, actively taking on water, and are ill equipped to safely transport any number of people. The Coast Guard will continue to adjust ship and aircraft patrols to respond to the surge in migrant activity. Additionally, we will continue to actively work with our Department of Homeland Security regional partners to disrupt human migrant smuggling.”

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention. Throughout the interdiction, Coast Guard crew members were equipped with personal protective equipment to minimize potential exposure to any possible case of COVID-19. There were no migrants in these cases reported to have any COVID-19 related symptoms.

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