Federal officers stopped a multinational human smuggling run off the Atlantic coast of Florida on Saturday. The smugglers were reportedly attempting to land 24 illegal aliens from six countries near West Palm Beach.
Marine crews from U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) worked with the U.S. Coast Guard and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office to intercept a 25-foot center console boat off the eastern coast of Florida. The incident took place on Saturday about nine miles from West Palm Beach near the Lake Worth Inlet, according to information obtained from CBP.
The marine interdiction agents stopped the boat being operated by a U.S. citizen and a Bahamian national. An investigation revealed the two were attempting to smuggle six Haitians, six Ecuadorians, four Chinese, three Bolivians, two Azerbaijanis, and one Dominican national.
“Air and Marine Operations advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities in Florida include an active and fully engaged cadre of coastal patrol vessels and aircraft monitoring the Florida coastline to detect and deter illegal and unsafe maritime migration,” Miami Air and Marine Branch Director Martin Wade said in a written statement. “We’ll continue to work closely with our local, state and federal partners to serve and protect the American people.”
The effort to stop these human smugglers from bringing 24 illegal aliens into the U.S. involved a joint law enforcement effort from federal and local officials.
Coast Guard Captain AlDante Vinciguerra, the 7th District’s chief of response, said, “These human smuggling networks continuously attempt to exploit our proximity to the Bahamas and illegally traffic people to our shores. “This case highlights the importance and strength of our cooperative border security efforts with all of our partners.”
CBP agents turned over all of the suspects in this incident to Homeland Security Investigations to determine appropriate charges for prosecution.