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Suspected smugglers among 16 people caught in waters off Palm Beach County

By WAYNE K. ROUSTAN | South Florida Sun Sentinel | Published: March 20, 2021

(Tribune News Service) — A 29-foot boat with 16 people aboard was intercepted about five miles off West Palm Beach in a suspected human smuggling operation, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

A Customs and Border Protection aircraft spotted the boat about 12:20 a.m. Wednesday.

The Coast Guard from Lake Worth Inlet intercepted the boat and took two Bahamians, seven Jamaicans, two Haitians and four Dominican Republicans into custody.

The captain and some of the passengers were brought ashore for questioning and possible criminal charges by Homeland Security Investigations. The remaining passengers were taken to the Bahamas on Friday, officials said.

Since Oct. 1Coast Guard crews have interdicted 78 Bahamians, eight Jamaicans, 182 Haitians, and 194 Dominican Republicans. That compares to the previous fiscal year when crews stopped 194 Bahamians, four Jamaicans, 418 Haitians and 1,117 Dominican Republicans, the Coast Guard said.

All migrants receive food, water, and basic medical attention once they are aboard a Coast Guard cutter.

Crew members are equipped with personal protective equipment to reduce their potential exposure to any possible cases of COVID-19. None of the migrants in these cases showed any COVID-19 symptoms, authorities said.

wkroustan@sunsentinel.com

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