MIAMI, USA -- Crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter Key Biscayne repatriated 71 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, on Tuesday.
This repatriation is a result of five separate attempts to migrate illegally to the United States aboard rustic vessels in the Florida Straits stemming back to July 3.
On July 3, a CBP-aircraft located a 20-foot chug with 13 Cuban migrants south of Islamorada, Florida. Sector Key West launched a boatcrew from Station Islamorada and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Key Biscayne, who arrived on scene, rescued the Cuban migrants and safely transferred them aboard the cutter.
On July 4, three separate interdictions totaling 35 migrants took place in the Florida Straits, including migrants located by the cruise ship Carnival Freedom. The crews of Coast Guard Air Station Miami, Station Marathon, Florida, the cutters Key Biscayne, Charles Sexton and Vigilant, interdicted the migrants and safely removed them from their unseaworthy vessels.
The following day, an Air Station Miami HC-144 aircrew detected a suspected migrant vessel with approximately 23 persons aboard. The Coast Guard Cutter Charles Sexton was diverted to the scene, arrived and safely embarked all migrants.
"The Coast Guard and our local partners continue to maintain a robust presence in the Florida Straits with numerous surface and aviation assets," said Capt. Mark Fedor, chief of response for the Coast Guard 7th District. "Our primary concern is always safety of life at sea; however, if we encounter people attempting to illegally enter the United States then we will expeditiously return those individuals to their country of origin. We will also prosecute the organizers of these illicit ventures to the maximum extent possible. To those individuals who are contemplating an illegal at-sea crossing towards the United States, we strongly urge you not to take to the sea and don't put your lives in the hands of ruthless smugglers who are only concerned about their profit margin."
All the migrants interdicted were transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Key Biscayne for repatriation.
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter all migrants receive food, water, shelter, and basic medical attention.