Coast Guard transfers 14 migrants, suspected smuggler ashore for investigation

Coast Guard Cutter Paul clarkMIAMI — The U.S. Coast Guard completed a transfer of 14 illegal migrants and a suspected smuggler Friday to Homeland Security Investigation officials in Miami for further investigation and possible prosecution.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection airplane crew located a suspicious vessel Tuesday near the Bahamas. A CBP boat crew intercepted the vessel approximately 12 miles southeast of Government Cut in Miami. The vessel would not stop, and the CBP boat crew employed warning shots and disabling fire. The Coast Guard Cutter Paul Clark crew arrived on scene and embarked all 15 people.

Transferred ashore were one Cuban national who is a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., one Ecuadorian migrant, one Jamaican migrant, six Chinese migrants and six Sri Lankan migrants. The lawful permanent resident was the suspected operator of the vessel and is being investigated for human smuggling.

“This coordinated use of CBP Air and Marine Operation’s air and marine assets is a shining example of our ability to detect and interdict vessels at sea,” said Tony Arevalo, Director of Marine Operations for CBP’s Miami Air and Marine Branch. “We’ll continue to aggressively patrol to prevent illegal maritime activity.

Approximately 40 miles separate the South Florida and Bahamanian coasts, and the area in between is constantly patrolled by Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection partners to detect, deter and stop illegal smuggling ventures.

“This case illustrates the tremendous cooperation and coordination that occurs between our DHS and DOJ partners to protect the homeland,” said Capt. Mark Gordon, 7th District Chief of Enforcement. “These smuggling operations and illicit networks care nothing about the people who put their lives and money in their hands. They callously risk both their passengers’ and the public’s lives. We will continue to work with all of our partners to foil their efforts and save lives.”

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