Miami, Florida - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Miami Air and Marine Branch (MAMB) working in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) detected and interdicted a rustic vessel with 28 Cuban migrants. The Coast Guard Cutter Isaac Mayo crew repatriated 28 migrants yesterday to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba.
Watch-standers at Coast Guard 7th District Command Center received a report from the Cuban Border Guard Saturday of a northbound rustic vessel with approximately 25 people aboard. The watch-standers diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Isaac Mayo from a patrol to intercept the vessel.
A CBP Air and Marine Operations DHC-8 aircraft crew initially located a 26-foot rustic vessel with 28 migrants aboard at approximately 9:30 a.m. Saturday north of Havana. The aircrew vectored in the Isaac Mayo crew who intercepted the motorized rustic vessel and passed along a child life jacket while remaining near the non-compliant migrant vessel.
“The highly effective collaboration among federal, state, and local agencies is more important than ever when it comes to combatting smuggling,” said Hector Rojas, Deputy Director, CBP Marine Operations at the Miami Air and Marine Branch. “The success of this event is a testament to the importance of information sharing, quick response, and partnerships.”
Assisting the Isaac Mayo was the Coast Guard Cutter Charles David Jr., a Coast Guard Station Key West 33-foot Special Purpose Craft—Law Enforcement boat, and a CBP Air and Marine Operations Key West Marine Unit.
"U.S. immigration policies have not changed and we urge people not to take to the ocean in unseaworthy vessels,” said Capt. Jason Ryan, the chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard's 7th District. “People aboard are putting their lives at risk attempting illegal voyages in homemade vessels without proper navigation or safety equipment.
After making the interdiction, the Isaac Mayo crew safely embarked 20 males, seven females and one child aboard the cutter.
“The Coast Guard with our partner agencies will continue to patrol vigilantly to rescue and repatriate undocumented migrants who take to the sea," added Ryan.
“Illegal migration at sea is inherently dangerous. Air and Marine Operations aims to bring encounters like this to an effective conclusion, as quickly and safely as possible,” said Jeff Maher, Deputy Director Air Operations for Miami Air and Marine Branch. “By intercepting these craft offshore, AMO and USCG hope to deter others from undertaking risky and sometimes deadly voyages.”
Approximately 189 Cuban migrants have attempted to illegally migrate to the U.S. via the maritime environment since Oct. 1 compared to 1,989 Cuban migrants in fiscal year 2017. These numbers represent the total number of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, Caribbean and Atlantic.
Once aboard Coast Guard cutters, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and medical attention.
The Isaac Mayo and Charles David Jr. are 154-foot fast response cutters homeported in Key West.
The mission of Air and Marine Operations is to serve and protect the American people. AMO applies advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities and employs its unique skill sets to preserve America’s security interests.
Partnership and community involvement are extremely important to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s mission. CBP asks you to report maritime smuggling and other suspicious activities through our toll free number 1-800-BE-ALERT.