Broward County

Coast Guard intercepts six in suspected human smuggling operation off Fort Lauderdale

A semi-submersible vessel is seen in international waters off the coast of Central America.
A semi-submersible vessel is seen in international waters off the coast of Central America. U.S. Coast Guard file photo

Three Jamaicans, an Israeli, a Jordanian, and one person who claimed to be a U.S. citizen were transferred over to U.S. Border Patrol on Wednesday in what the U.S. Coast Guard is calling a suspected smuggling case.

The 36-foot cabin cruiser carrying the group was intercepted Tuesday by a Miami-ported Coast Guard cutter ship. The crew conducted a “safety boarding” on the ship about 11 miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale. Initially, the operator of the cruiser told officials there were two people aboard, but the boarding team found four others during its search, the Coast Guard said.

Border Patrol agents in Fort Lauderdale will investigate the case, with prosecution possible.

The roughly 45 miles of water between South Florida and Bahamian coasts are “constantly patrolled” by the Coast Guard, with Customs and Border Protection helping to “detect, deter and stop illegal smuggling ventures,” the Coast Guard said.

“These smuggling operations and illicit networks care nothing about the people who put their lives and money in their hands,” said Capt. Aldante Vinciguerra, Coast Guard Seventh District chief of response, in a statement. “They callously risk both their passengers’ and the public’s lives. We will continue to work with all of our partners to foil their efforts and save lives.”

The crew of the Coast Guard Hamilton offloaded more than 18 tons of cocaine Thursday, May 18, 2017, in Port Everglades worth an estimated $498 million.

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