Coast Guard Repatriates 56 Cubans, Arrest 19 Suspects

MIAMI – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Knight Island repatriated 56 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, Sunday, who were interdicted at sea in four separate events since Wednesday.

In the first of three interdictions Thursday, the Cutter Knight Island interdicted a rustic vessel with 14 Cuban migrants aboard 40 miles south of Key West, Fla., Thursday.

Crews from the Cutters Vigilant and Key Biscayne interdicted a go-fast vessel with 32 Cuban migrants and two suspected smugglers 40 miles south of Big Pine Key, Fla. The two suspected smugglers were transferred to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in Key West, Fla.

The Cutter Knight Island executed Thursday’s third interdiction, stopping a go-fast vessel with two people aboard 80 miles southwest of Key West. One suspected smuggler was transferred to CBP agents in Key West.

The Cutter Knight Island rescued 12 Cuban migrants from a rustic vessel 65 miles southwest of Key West Wednesday.

In addition to the four interdictions, Coast Guard crews successfully disrupted nine suspected migrant-smuggling events since Oct. 11. From the nine disruptions, 19 suspects were turned over to CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

“Through the vigilance and dedication of our Coast Guard men and women, we continue to disrupt attempts to smuggle undocumented migrants into the United States from the sea,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris O’Neil, public affairs officer for the Seventh Coast Guard District. “Each interdiction at sea and each disruption of a migrant smuggling attempt brings us another step closer to breaking apart the criminal organizations behind this threat to border security. We continue to ask for the public’s assistance in stopping this life-threatening criminal enterprise by reporting suspicious activity to the Coast Guard by calling 877-24-WATCH (877-249-2824) and by taking extra care to secure their boats when not in use.”

Once aboard Coast Guard cutters, all migrants are provided food, water and any necessary medical treatment.

The cutter Vigilant is a 210-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The cutter Key Biscayne is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The cutter Knight Island is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in St. Petersburg.

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