The Coast Guard repatriated 43 Haitian migrants Wednesday from two separate interdictions in the Mona Passage, including a pair of migrants who had to be rescued after they were forced into the water by smugglers attempting to avoid interdiction at sea.Hanging from a yardarm might be a good idea for those smugglers. Attempted murder charges at least.
The Coast Guard Cutter Confidence repatriated the migrants to Haiti Wednesday.
On Friday a group of 19 migrants was detected by a Coast Guard aircraft west of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo to interdict the migrant vessel and informed federal law enforcement partner agencies.
Upon the cutter Key Largo’s arrival on scene, the smugglers, in an attempt to flee the area and avoid interdiction, allegedly threatened the migrants onboard and forced two Haitians, including a minor, overboard without life jackets. The crew of the Key Largo rescued the two Haitians and continued to pursue the suspect vessel.
During the pursuit, a patrolling U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine Operations aircraft was able to maintain surveillance of the fleeing vessel until it was relieved by a Coast Guard HC-144 Maritime Patrol aircraft deployed to Puerto Rico from Coast Guard Air Station Miami.
The suspected smugglers were later apprehended by Dominican Republic law enforcement authorities.
“This incident demonstrates just how ruthless smugglers are. They have no regard for human life and are only seeking to profit from this illicit activity,” said Lt. Daniel E. Stepler, Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo commanding officer.
The other 24 Haitian migrants were interdicted four days earlier by Coast Guard Cutter Drummond approximately 13 miles west of Mona Island. Two suspected smugglers were apprehended and turned over to law enforcement authorities in Puerto Rico for further investigation.
How bad is the problem? "Coast Guard Repatriates 56 Migrants to Cap Haitien, Haiti and Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba":
The Coast Guard repatriated 25 Haitian migrants to Cap Haitien, Haiti, and 31 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, Tuesday.
These repatriations are a result of five separate attempts to illegally migrate to the United States.
On June 9, 2014, the Coast Guard Cutter Drummond interdicted 25 Haitian migrants on a yola vessel west of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. The migrants were transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma and then to the Coast Guard Cutter Confidence for repatriation to Haiti.
The following Friday, three separate interdictions totaling 31 migrants took place in the Florida Straits. The crews of Coast Guard Station Key West, Florida, Coast Guard Station Marathon, Florida, the Coast Guard Cutter Sawfish and Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo interdicted the migrants and safely removed them from their unseaworthy vessels.
All the migrants interdicted were transferred to the Coast Guard Cutters Knight Island and Confidence for repatriation.
“The Coast Guard and our partner agencies continue to diligently patrol the waters around the United States to deter illegal migrant activity,” said Capt. Mark Fedor, chief of response enforcement. “Our main concern is the safety of life at sea. When migrants put their lives in the hands of smugglers, or take to the sea aboard unseaworthy vessels, they put their lives at grave risk.”
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter all migrants receive food, water, shelter, and basic medical attention.