The United States Coast Guard says the crew of its cutter Bernard Webber crew on Saturday repatriated 43 Cuban migrants to their homeland following four interdictions off the Florida Keys.
The US Coast Guard said a Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater C-130 Hercules law enforcement aircrew alerted Coast Guard Sector Key West watchstanders of a rustic vessel on Tuesday, about 40 miles south of Long Key, Florida.
The US Coast Guard also said that a Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations law enforcement air crew alerted Coast Guard Sector Key West watchstanders of a rustic vessel the following day, on Wednesday – about 50 miles south of Islamorada, Florida.
Later in the day another vessel was spotted, about 45 miles south of Big Pine Key, Florida, and another was seen 65 miles south of Marathon, Florida.
“The Coast Guard and our partners have increased air and surface patrols in the Florida Straits, Windward and Mona Passages,” said Petty Officer Nicole J. Groll, Coast Guard District Seven. “These waterways are dangerous, unpredictable and the risk for loss of life is great.”
The Coast Guard said it repatriated the 48 Cuban migrants on Thursday the interdictions off the Florida Keys.
Since October 1, 2021, the US Coast Guard said its crews interdicted 1,952 Cubans compared to 5,396 in Fiscal Year 2016, 1,468 in Fiscal Year 2017, 259 in Fiscal Year 2018, 313 in Fiscal Year 2019, 49 in Fiscal Year 2020 and 838 in Fiscal Year 2021.
Last month the Belize government says it had seen an “upsurge” in the number of Cubans entering the country illegally since re-opening the land borders on February 7, hoping to make their way into the United States.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, and Immigration said the Cubans are among other nationals, entering Belize via irregular means.