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Migrants Come Ashore In Bay Harbor Islands

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Customs and Border Patrol agents are searching for migrants who came ashore on a boat Wednesday morning in Bay Harbor Islands, surprising residents.

A Border Patrol source told CBS4's Peter D'Oench that it appears the migrants were smuggled in on a Mako boat that had two high-powered engines on it. That boat had no markings on it, making it difficult for authorities to trace.

Border Patrol received a call around 8 a.m. Wednesday and when they got there, they found the boat tied up at a dock behind some apartment buildings at 92nd Street and East Bay Harbor Drive.  Nothing was on that boat except some articles of clothing.

James Reynolds, who is a maintenance man for one of the apartment buildings, said a friend of his who lives there used his cell phone to capture video of the migrants and told Reynolds what he saw.

"He told me he saw 8 to 12 migrants jumping off a boat that pulled in next to his boat and they started running to the next street and by the time he got there, they were gone. He thinks a vehicle was waiting for them. I am pretty sure this was organized because the vehicle was there. I think this is crazy. I wish they would do this the right way and come in the right way. My friend saw his own video. I didn't see it," said Reynolds.

Bassam Zammar,  the owner of the Bay Harbor Mini Mart, said "I have been here 15 years and I have never seen anything like this. My boat was docked right next to where the immigrants docked and I saw the helicopter overhead and everything. I think this sort of thing should not happen. There should be some type of control. I am surprised they got this far from the channel and Haulover."

Jason Logan, a resident of Bay Harbor Islands, said "They must have known somebody to just get off that boat and go to a vehicle."

Border Patrol has not said where the migrants came from and have so far not released a statement.

CBS4 has learned that the number of Cuban migrants interdicted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard has risen dramatically this year because of conditions in that country.

The Coast Guard said in the past two months, 293 Cubans were interdicted at sea compared with 838 Cubans the entire previous fiscal year which ended at the end of September 2021.

The current rate of interdictions is twice the monthly average from the previous year.

The U.S. Coast Guard said there has been a surge in the number of Cuban migrants intercepted at sea in recent months.

A Coast Guard spokeswoman told CBS4 that in the past two months, 293 Cubans were interdicted at sea compared with 838 Cubans for all of the previous fiscal year.

Activist Orlando Gutierrez of the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance said there are a number of factors causing the increase in Cubans leaving their country.

"First," he said, "there are the intolerable economic and political conditions that the dictatorship in Cuba has imposed on the Cuban people. The regime is making life intolerable for many people on the island."

Gutierrez worries that more Cubans will continue risking their lives at sea by making the journey by themselves or with smugglers.

He said, "The straits of Florida are very very rough and the seas are full of sharks. We have seen thousands of Cubans dying after trying to leave the dictatorship and the reality is that life in the regime is so grievous that people are making that choice."

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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