By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The U.S. Coast Guard repatriated 40 Cubans on Thursday picked up off the Florida Keys in two suspected smuggling operations.

The first group was spotted last Sunday, around 5 a.m., about 13 miles southeast of Marathon. One suspected smuggler was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations special agents.

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On Tuesday, the second group was reported by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection flight crew. The vessel was about 10 miles south of Long Key. One suspected smuggler was turned over to HSI agents.

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“People illegally entering the U.S. using smugglers put their lives in the hands of criminals,” said Coast Guard District Seven Lt. Cmdr. Mark Cobb. “Migrant smugglers are ruthless criminals who only care about profit.”

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Since Oct. 1, 2021, Coast Guard crews interdicted 690 Cubans trying to enter the U.S. Team