MIAMI—Months of searching for three Montana children believed kidnapped by their father ended happily Tuesday when a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) air crew spotted the father's sailboat off the coast of southern Florida.
Just before noon Tuesday, the crew of a CBP DHC-8 (commonly called a "dash 8") aircraft was conducting a border security mission over the ocean about 30 miles east of Pompano Beach, Fla., when they observed a sailboat marked as the "Lunacy." They matched the boat to the description of a 40-foot vessel named "Night Dragon" detailed in an FBI alert issued several months ago in relation to a case involving a suspected parental kidnapping case from Montana.
While keeping the vessel in constant surveillance, the crew was able to observe at least one child on the deck and positively identify the vessel as the apparently renamed sailboat of the suspected kidnapper. After confirming the sighting with FBI agents, the CBP air crew guided U.S. Coast Guard vessels to intercept the sailboat.
The interception led to the apprehension of James Ray Bryant, 44, who was the subject of active warrants from Montana for allegedly kidnapping his three children, ages 12, 13 and 15, in August 2011. The children were also found aboard the vessel and taken into protective custody until they were later reunited with their mother.
Bryant was turned over to the Broward County Sheriff's Office.
"The coordinated effort of CBP Office of Air and Marine personnel working in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard, the FBI and local law enforcement partners brought this case to a positive conclusion. Had it not been for the keen observation of the DHC-8 crew members and the efficient reaction of the other agencies involved, this suspect could have easily evaded apprehension," said CBP OAM Miami Air & Marine Director Randy Donnelson.
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.