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Coast Guard nabs 10 Cuban migrants and two suspected smugglers in waters off Cuba

Test flights on the HC-144B Minotaur prototype aircraft began in March. (U.S. Coast Guard/Released)

On the same day the Coast Guard intercepted 50 Haitian migrants on a makeshift boat near Haiti, another crew intercepted 10 Cuban migrants and two suspected smugglers 12 miles off of Villa Clara Province, Cuba.

On Monday, watchstanders with the Miami-based Coast Guard 7th District found out about an illegal departure of a 30-foot go-fast boat with 12 people aboard near Villa Clara Province.

Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft crew spotted the boat and sent the Coast Guard Cutter Raymond Evans (WPC-1110) crew to the location where they brought 10 men and two women onto the cutter and repatriated the 10 Cuban migrants.

The two suspected smugglers were transferred into the custody of Homeland Security Investigations, the Coast Guard said in a news release Saturday.

“The Coast Guard maintains a focused and coordinated effort with multiple agency assets to interdict any attempt to unlawfully immigrate by sea to the United States,” said Rear Adm. Peter J. Brown, commander of the Coast Guard’s 7th District.

“Those who are interdicted at sea attempting to illegally immigrate will be repatriated to their country in accordance with existing U.S. immigration policy,” he said.

“Migrant interdiction operations save lives, and we need the support of the local communities, families, and information outlets in the media to help reiterate the dangers of taking these unsafe voyages. The sea conditions can change in an instant and can be unforgiving to the ill-equipped craft that are often used for these voyages,” said Brown, who also serves as director of the multiagency Homeland Security Task Force Southeast.

The Coast Guard’s 7th District oversees all Coast Guard operations in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

According to the Coast Guard, 291 Cuban migrants have attempted to illegally enter the U.S. by sea in fiscal year 2019 compared to 384 Cuban migrants in fiscal year 2018.


© 2019 Miami Herald

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.