FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents were called in after migrants came ashore along Ft. Lauderdale's beach.
The city's police department said they received a call from a resident of the Lago Mar neighborhood about the migrants around 7 a.m.
"I had seen a woman, she was frantically trying to swim and she was having a hard time. The lifeguard had gone in to get her and brought her on to shore," said witness Mike Johnston.
When officers arrived they found the illegal aliens beach side in the area of 1800 South Ocean Lane.
In all, 8 people were taken into custody after making it safely to land; 7 women and a man. Another man was pulled from the water, he did not survive.
"About an hour later, they pulled out a third body, unconscious. They tried to give him CPR but it didn't look too good for that person," said Marco Arroyo.
The individuals are believed to be from Haiti, according to police.
While people on the beach watched as the migrants swam ashore, what they did not see was a boat. Border Patrol believes smugglers brought them close to shore from the Bahamas in a "go fast" boat, then forced them swim the rest of the way.
"These are organized criminal ventures that treat these people like cargo, just like a load of drugs or other contraband, they're not all that concerned with their safety," said Border Patrol deputy chief Michael Flanagan.
Surfers told CBS4 of all days for inexperienced swimmers to get in the water, Thursday was a bad one. The surf was pretty powerful.
"It's real rough. If you don't know how to swim, or what your doing, you're in trouble," said Justin Starrett.
"It's sad I feel for them because I want them to have a better life too. They're people, you know, and for them to come over, it's brave, but it's dangerous. I wish they would have known the conditions going on today because this was not a good day to go out into these waters," added Mike Johnston.
Officers checked the surrounding area for any additional migrants and have reached out to the Bahamas to alert law enforcement in that area to be on the lookout for a suspicious vessel returning there.
Anyone with information regarding the location of additional individuals should contact Fort Lauderdale Police Department at (954) 828-5700.
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