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CBP: Human Smuggling Operation Brings Large Group Of Haitian Migrants Off Cudjoe Key

MONROE COUNTY (CBSMiami) – U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents responded to a human smuggling incident involving a large group of Haitian migrants in Monroe County.

According to CBP officials, the migrants were near the vicinity of Cudjoe Key, near mile marker 26, about 20 miles away from Key West.

Haitian Migrants Ashore
(Courtesy: Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

Officials say there were just over 120 migrants on the vessel, some of them, made landfall on Summerland Key.

"The boat they were on contained 122 Haitian migrants all in this one voyage. Everyone arrived safely. Four were taken to the hospital. The rest are in good condition. They will be taken to two stations. We do not know why they came here," said Peter Daniel of CBP.

Border Patrol officials said it was a suspected human smuggling operation. It's not known if a smuggler is in custody.

CBP spokesman Adam Hoffner told CBS4's Peter D'Oench that this is "an ongoing investigation."

boat pics 2
(Source: Monroe Co. Sheriff's Office)

Back on February 28, crews spotted a Haitian sailboat with 179 people aboard 30 miles off Andros Island, Bahamas.

Then on March 4, the Coast Guard stopped another Haitian sail vessel with 123 people, including 39 minors about 10 miles from Anguilla Cay, Bahamas.

Just three days later, on March 7, another grounding took place not far from where another boat carrying 176 Haitians was stopped in January.

There has been a surge in Haitians being stopped at sea in recent months by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard says since October 1, 1,152 Haitian migrants have been rescued at sea compared with 1,527 in all of the 2021 fiscal year and 418 in the 2020 fiscal year.

Migrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally are usually repatriated.

Activists say conditions contributing to the exodus of Haitians include the president's assassination, continuing economic problems and rising gang violence.

"It just concerns me about the fact with so many people leaving Haiti that they risk their lives because of o much despair. We have been saying over the years that there is a humanitarian crisis with people being killed and starved and kidnapped. It's just a combination of all those calamities befalling people in Haiti. As much as they are resilient, they have reached a breaking point. It is just too bad they are risking their lives by taking risks," said activist Leonie Hermantin.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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