MIAMI — Marine crews from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations and the Coast Guard interdicted 24 migrants off the coast near Lake Worth Inlet on Saturday.
Authorities transferred the individuals involved in the suspected human smuggling to U.S. Border Patrol agents in Lake Worth for processing, and to Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.
Marine interdiction agents from the West Palm Beach Marine Unit, Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet and Palm Beach Sheriff's Office intercepted a 25-foot center console boat approximately 9 miles east of West Palm Beach.
The suspected smugglers are reportedly one U.S. citizen and one Bahamian. The passengers included six Haitians, six Ecuadorians, four Chinese, three Bolivians, two Azerbaijanis and one Dominican.
“Air and Marine Operations advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities in Florida include an active and fully engaged cadre of coastal patrol vessels and aircraft monitoring the Florida coastline to detect and deter illegal and unsafe maritime migration,” said Martin Wade, Director of the Miami Air and Marine Branch. “We’ll continue to work closely with our local, state and federal partners to serve and protect the American people.”
Approximately 45 miles separate the South Florida and Bahamian coasts. The area in between is constantly patrolled by CBP’s Air and Marine Operations and Coast Guard partners to detect, deter and stop illegal smuggling ventures.
“These human smuggling networks continuously attempt to exploit our proximity to the Bahamas and illegally traffic people to our shores,” said Capt. AlDante Vinciguerra, Coast Guard 7th District chief of response. “This case highlights the importance and strength of our cooperative border security efforts with all of our partners."
For breaking news and information updates from U.S. Customs and Border Protection follow @CustomsBorder @CBPFlorida and CBPCaribbean on Twitter.
Watch a video on how U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations secures the maritime border and download stock footage from DVIDS - Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.