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CBP Air and Marine Operations Aircrews Detect Multiple Vessels, 56 Migrants Near South Florida

Release Date: 
January 8, 2016

MIAMI—So far in 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Air and Marine Operations (AMO) aircrews have detected six rustics (homemade boats) on the Florida Straits transporting 56 undocumented migrants from Cuba.

CBP Air and Marine Operations detected undocumented migrants off Florida's coast.

CBP Air and Marine Operations detected undocumented migrants off Florida's coast.

On New Year’s Day, an Air and Marine Operations aircrew aboard a DHC-8 aircraft spotted the first two in a series of homemade boats. The aircrew alerted interagency partners to the vessels transporting four and two undocumented migrants, respectively, off the Florida coastline.

On January 2, the DHC-8 crew detected and reported three additional rustic vessels, which prompted the subsequent interdiction by the U.S. Coast Guard. The three groups had 19, 12, and 8 migrants aboard each vessel, respectively, sailing in tandem a few nautical miles south of the Florida Keys.

On January 3, the DHC-8 crew detected an additional group of 11 migrants aboard a rustic vessel 35 nautical miles east of Islamorada. AMO’s Key West Marine Unit, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, executed this interdiction.

CBP Air and Marine Operations maintains an active and fully engaged cadre of coastal patrol vessels and aircraft actively patrolling the Florida coastline to detect and deter illegal and unsafe maritime migration.

“Our crews continue to use their expertise and equipment effectively against human traffickers and narcotics smugglers in the South Florida region,” said William Gibbon, Director of the Miami Air and Marine Branch. “Together with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we counter these persistent threats. The dedication of our crews to detect illicit smuggling attempts and deter illegal activity is unparalleled.”

The mission of CBP Air and Marine Operations is to serve and protect the American people. AMO applies advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities and employs a unique skill set to preserve America’s security interests.

Partnership efforts and community involvement are extremely important to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s mission. If you have information about maritime smuggling or suspicious activity call 1-800-BE-ALERT (1-800-232-5378) or the after-hours toll-free number 1-800-562-5943

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017