Miami-Dade County

U.S. authorities pick up suspected smuggler with 14 migrants off Miami coast

In this file photo, crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore, homeported in Key West, Fla., prepare to receive Cuban nationals interdicted in the Florida Straits. This week, U.S. officials picked up a suspected smuggler and 14 migrants off the coast of Miami and handed them over to immigration authorities.
In this file photo, crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore, homeported in Key West, Fla., prepare to receive Cuban nationals interdicted in the Florida Straits. This week, U.S. officials picked up a suspected smuggler and 14 migrants off the coast of Miami and handed them over to immigration authorities. U.S. Coast Guard District 7 PADE

U.S. officials picked up a suspected smuggler and 14 migrants off the coast of Miami this week and handed them over to immigration authorities.

Homeland Security officials are investigating after a Cuban national who lawfully lives in the U.S. was spotted Tuesday with 14 migrants in a vessel off the coast of the Bahamas. A boat crew for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intercepted the vessel about 12 miles southeast of Government Cut. When border agents engaged the vessel, it would not stop. The border protection crew used warning shots and disabled the vessel.

Authorities said the Cuban national is suspected of trying to illegally bring in 14 migrants: one Ecuadorian, six Chinese, one Jamaican and six Sri Lankans.

On Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard transferred all 15 to Homeland Security officials in Miami for investigation and possible prosecution.

“This coordinated use of [Customs and Border Protection] Air and Marine Operation’s air and marine assets is a shining example of our ability to detect and interdict vessels at sea,” said Tony Arevalo, director of Marine Operations for CBP’s Miami Air and Marine Branch. “We’ll continue to aggressively patrol to prevent illegal maritime activity.”

Border agents and the Coast Guard constantly patrol the 40 miles between the South Florida and Bahamian coasts.

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