Coast Guard Repratiates 22 Haitian Migrants, Interdicts Another 111

MIAMI – U.S. Coast Guard crews continued interdicting illegal migrants and disrupting migrant smuggling ventures during law enforcement operations over the past week.

Coast Guard Cutter Forward repatriated 22 Haitian migrants to Cap Haitien, Haiti, yesterday. Twenty-six Haitian and one Ecuadorian migrant were found crammed into the cabin of a 33-foot vessel 10 miles east of West Palm Beach, Fla., April 19, while crews from the Cutter Gannet were conducting a random security boarding of the vessel. The two suspected smugglers and five migrants were transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Miami for further questioning.

At about 9:45 a.m. yesterday a HU-25 Falcon jet from Air Station Miami was conducting a law enforcement patrol and spotted a grossly overloaded 45-foot Haitian sail freighter seven miles south of Great Inagua, Bahamas. The Falcon jet crew as well as an H-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., continued to monitor the vessel until the Cutter Decisive was on scene.

Once on scene, crews from the Decisive confirmed 111 Haitians were on board the vessel with no life jackets, navigational gear, navigational lights or VHF radio.

“These two cases illustrate the danger of taking to the high seas to attempt entering the United States or the Bahamas illegally,” Capt. Edwin Daniels, chief of operations for the Seventh Coast Guard District. “The rough seas and strong winds only increase the risk of death and serious injury. Sailing a small boat across the open waters of the Windward Pass and Straits of Florida is very hazardous.”

Migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical care while on board Coast Guard cutters.

Since January 2007, the Coast Guard has successfully interdicted 225 Haitian, 528 Dominican Republic, and 607 Cubans.

Gannet is a 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Cutter Forward is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Va.

Homeported in Pascagoula, Miss., the Cutter Decisive is also a 210-foot medium endurace cutter.

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