Miami - U.S. Customs and Border Protection marine interdiction agents thwarted an attempt by four Cuban citizens to reach the U.S. on a crude raft Thursday morning.
While conducting marine operations in the waters south of Key West, agents aboard a CBP vessel received radio messages from the operator of another vessel in the area reporting a sighting of a slow-moving raft.
When the agents responded to the area they intercepted a raft made of wooden planks buoyed by automobile inner tubes and powered by a simple sail. Four people - two adult males, one adult female and a child - were aboard the raft. The agents pulled the CBP vessel alongside the raft and brought the four subjects aboard.
Initial interviews with subjects indicated they were residents of Cuba who were attempting to reach the U.S. All of the subjects appeared to be in good condition and did not require or ask for medical assistance.
The subjects were turned over to a U.S. Coast Guard cutter for further processing and possible repatriation.
"Moving through these waters in a well-built and well-equipped vessel can be difficult and dangerous so there are tremendous risks involved in attempting to traverse the open sea in this type of craft," said Noel Mannheimer, director of marine operations for CBP's Air and Marine Branch. "These people were very lucky that something did not happen to them before our vessel intercepted them. This is yet another case that shows why no one should ever attempt to illegally enter the United States."
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.