MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It has been a busy week for the U.S. Coast Guard battling illegal migration as more than 200 people were rescued and repatriated.
The migration attempts included people from Cuba, Haiti, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic, the Coast Guard said.
According to officials, the Coast Guard repatriated 88 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabanas, Cuba, 82 Haitian migrants to Cap-Haitien, Haiti, and 41 Dominicans and two Cubans back to the Dominican Republic within the past week. In addition, 17 migrants suspected of various crimes were brought to Miami and Puerto Rico for further investigation.
One of the largest groups of migrants was rescued by a Coast Guard cutter.
The 82 Haitian migrants were reportedly on an overloaded 30-foot sail freighter and discovered south of Great Inagua, Bahamas.
Cruise ships, the Norwegian Pearl and Carnival Ecstasy, assisted with rescuing 65 Cuban migrants in two separate incidents in the Florida Straits.
“Although there were no reported deaths in any of these cases, all of them could have ended tragically,” said Todd Lutes, chief of incident management for the Coast Guard Seventh District in a press release. “Not one of the boats had lifesaving or navigation equipment and nearly all of them were experiencing signs of distress and taking on water.”
Twelve Cuban migrants were rescued after being stranded on an uninhabited island in the Bahamas.
50 Dominicans and two Cubans were interdicted in the Mona Passage, an 80-mile stretch between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Additionally, a U.S. citizen suspected of smuggling nine mixed nationality migrants from the Bahamas to Miami was brought to investigators in Miami for questioning.
“Make no mistake about it, we will aggressively go after the individuals who knowingly put other people’s lives at risk,” said Cmdr. Timothy Cronin, deputy chief of enforcement for the Seventh Coast Guard District in a press release. “Human smugglers are ruthless, profit seeking criminals who have no regard for human life.”
2013 and 2014 and have been active years for illegal migration according to the Coast Guard. Since October of 2013, officials said they interdicted 682 Cuban migrants, 559 Haitian migrants, and 217 Dominican migrants.