US Customs agents nab over 1,000 Caribbean migrants in first two weeks of December

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

(CMC) – The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency said 1,086 Caribbean migrants have been apprehended between December 1 and December 14 this year.

CBP said that they were detained during exercises involving its Air and Marine Operations Southeast Region, US Coast Guard, Homeland Security Task Force-Southeast as well as local and international law enforcement partners.

On December 1, 63 migrants were detained near Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico on a “dangerously overloaded vessel” with two pregnant women among those apprehended.

According to the CBP, on December 5, the Miami Air and Marine Branch and Jacksonville Air and Marine Branch Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft crews located “multiple smuggling vessels near the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

“The crews communicated the location to an Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos team who coordinated for the Turks and Caicos Islands maritime police to conduct the interdiction.

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“Partner nation maritime teams apprehended 306 migrants over multiple events in a single day working with Air and Marine Operations aircrews who conducted aerial monitoring,” said the CBP, adding this event accounts for nearly 30 per cent of apprehensions in the first two weeks of December.

In another encounter on December 11, the authorities said they apprehended another 306 migrants.

“This event highlights the cooperation between Air and Marine Operations branches. Aircrews from Jacksonville and Miami continued to work together throughout the day to keep eyes on suspicious vessels in order to guide maritime units to their location,” said Drew Gellerson, director of Air and Marine Operations, Jacksonville Air and Marine Branch.

CBP said “another significant enforcement event” occurred on December 11 near Key Largo, Florida.

CBP said 47 Caribbean migrants, who “indicated they had departed Cuba approximately eight days prior and displayed an ‘SOS’ flag when they were discovered by responding authorities,” were also detained on December 11.

“Our crews train relentlessly to be prepared for situations like this,” said Travis Curtin, acting deputy director of Marine Operations, Miami Air and Marine Branch. “We will continue to work as a team with our international, federal, state, and local partners to stop illicit maritime traffic.”

Last year, CBP said enforcement actions resulted in 967 arrests and 134,981 apprehensions of undocumented migrants, as well as the seizure or disruption of 250,616 pounds of cocaine, 1,475 pounds of fentanyl, 25,625 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,342 weapons, and US$21.7 million.

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