Coast Guard rescues, repatriates 97 Haitian and 8 Cuban migrants

MIAMI – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma repatriated 97 Haitian migrants to Cap Haitien, Haiti, Friday, after they were located at sea on a grossly overloaded vessel Wednesday.

While conducting a routine patrol in the Caribbean Sea, the crew of the Tahoma discovered a Haitian sail freighter south of Acklins Island, Bahamas. Tahoma crewmembers distributed life jackets to the migrants and safely transferred the 73 men, 15 women and nine children to the cutter.

To date in fiscal year 2010, which began Oct. 1, 2009, the Coast Guard has interdicted 709 Haitian migrants.

In a separate case, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Pea Island repatriated eight Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, Friday.

Coast Guard Cutter Nantucket crewmembers interdicted the nine migrants aboard their 15-foot raft Sunday 120 miles west of Key West, Fla.,without incident. After medical screening aboard the cutter, the migrants were transferred to the Pea Island.

One migrant was transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for further processing.

“Although much of the nation’s attention is on the Deepwater Horizon response, our day-to-day missions of search and rescue, law enforcement, and maritime stewardship remain important, too,” said Capt. Peter Brown, Seventh Coast Guard District chief of response. “We will continue to patrol vigilantly to rescue and repatriate undocumented migrants who take to the sea and, together with our partner agencies, we will vigorously investigate and prosecute migrant smuggling and associated crimes.”

Once aboard the cutters, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical care.

The Tahoma is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, N.H.
The Nantucket is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Pea Island is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Key West.

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