TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A ship carrying over 300 Haitian migrants was intercepted by the U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Coast Guard Saturday after it made landfall near Key Largo.
Chief Patrol Agent Walter N. Slosar said the ship was grounded near Ocean Reef.
One hundred thirteen of the migrants were taken into Border Patrol custody after landfall and were medically screen. Two of the migrants were taken to a local hospital to be treated for dehydration.
“We are working to keep them safe, clean, fed and healthy,” Slosar said, describing the situation as a national security situation.
Another 218 Haitians on the vessel were transferred to U.S. Coast Guard ships, according to the Coast Guard Twitter page.
Slosar said authorities were working to identify the smugglers among the crowd.
The agent said that within two days, U.S. Border Patrol and law enforcement responded to 16 migrant landings, which resulted in 263 migrants being detained.
“All of the events involved makeshift, overloaded vessels,” Slosar said. “We urge migrants to avoid these dangerous voyages that can potentially result in loss of life.”
As of this report, the U.S. Coast Guard is still searching for five people from a separate incident, which involved a boat capsizing and killing two people.