By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
UNITED States Border Patrol agents took into custody yesterday morning several Haitian migrants who they suspect of being a part of a human smuggling operation from the Bahamas.
According to international reports, the group of migrants bailed from a beached boat shortly after 3am Tuesday, touched off a massive ground, air, and sea search.
Border Patrol said it appears this was a human smuggling operation from the Bahamas. It was the second migrant arrest in Palm Beach County for the week.
On Monday, Border Patrol caught seven Haitians after they landed on Palm Beach.
They all appeared to be in good health. Crews are currently searching for the smuggler who dropped them off.
Investigators did not find a boat on the beach.
US Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Doug Jannusch, who is stationed in the Bahamas, said the Coast Guard is concerned about the alleged human trafficking ring operating in the Bahamas, but, he said, they are working with the government to curb the problem.
“Obviously,” he said, “any form of illicit trafficking is a concern to the Coast Guard. There have been various apprehensions between the Bahamas and Florida throughout the year. We cooperate on a number of different fronts. There are concerns about various activities, but I cannot comment on them at this time.”
Late last year, two Bahamians and a Jamaican were arrested in connection with an alleged human smuggling operation in Grand Bahama.
Acting on information, officers went to an area near Silver Sands Court on Bahamia Reef Boulevard where they discovered eight persons who they believed were illegal immigrants.
Inspector Terecita Pinder confirmed that three Columbians (two women and one man); four Haitians (two men and two women); and one Guyanese man were taken into custody and turned over to the Immigration authorities.
Also in December, Grand Bahama police began investigating the death of a Bahamian man at Holmes Rock and a suspected human smuggling operation involving a number of Haitians.
The body of the man and a vessel were discovered on the beach near the Holmes Rock Cemetery.
Four people, including three Haitians and one Bahamian, were taken into police custody.