By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
THIRTEEN Cuban migrants were caught in the area of the Cay Sal Bank on March 30 after five days at sea aboard a flimsy vessel made of wood pallets.
This is the largest group of migrants from Cuba apprehended in a single incident in The Bahamas for the year.
According to reports, a Royal Bahamas Defence Force aircraft on patrol on Friday spotted some 13 Cuban males near Cay Sal and requested assistance from the US Coast Guard.
The USCG Cutter William Flores was in the area and responded. Officials spotted the migrants in a rustic vessel made out of wood pallets and took them in custody and destroyed the vessel.
The migrants told officials they left Cuba on Sunday, March 25, and were heading for Miami, Florida. They were brought to Grand Bahama and turned over to local immigration officials.
The men were examined by medical staff from the Disease Surveillance Unit at the Public Hospitals Authority and processed.
Immigration officer Napthali Cooper said the migrants will be flown to New Providence to be detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre to await repatriation.
Cubans continue to risk their lives at sea trying to reach the United States, despite an end to the ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy.
The longstanding policy, which allowed only Cuban migrants who arrive in the US without a visa to become permanent residents, ended January 20, 2017 under the Obama administration.