(NEW YORK) — About 150 Haitian migrants landed on the shores of the Summerland Key in Florida Monday morning, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
According to Adam Linhardt, Director of Media Relations Monroe Co. Sheriff’s Office, the group traveled on a single vessel. They’re now being investigated by CBP.
The news comes just one week after 356 Haitian migrants reached the coast of the Ocean Reef community in Key Largo, Florida.
A total 158 people swam to shore from the vessel, which was roughly 200 meters away from land. They were taken into CBP custody when they arrived and will be interviewed and processed for removal proceedings, according to CBP.
“We are fortunate to report that there were no serious injuries or fatalities associated with this smuggling venture,” said Walter N. Slosar, Chief Patrol Agent, U.S. Border Patrol, Miami Sector, in a press release. “The criminal organizations that overload these vessels sacrifice the safety of the migrants for the sake of profits.”
A remaining 198 people stayed on the boat and were stopped by the U.S. Coast Guard and transferred to the agency’s boats. They have since been repatriated to Haiti.
In January, a “human-smuggling” boat carrying 40 people capsized in the Straits of Florida. Thirty-four people remained unaccounted for in the incident, according to officials.
Five bodies were recovered, and one person was found alive, clinging to the hull of the boat.
“The Coast Guard maintains a persistent presence patrolling the waters around Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, to help prevent loss of life on the high seas,” said Lt. David Steele, Coast Guard liaison officer to the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, at the time. “These grossly overloaded vessels operate without proper safety equipment and are not built for these hazardous voyages.”
Many Haitian refugees have left their country due to the devastating impacts of natural disasters and political instability that have resulted in economic struggles in the country.
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