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39 Haitian Migrants Held In Joint Operation

A JOINT maritime operation between the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Police Force, Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos Islands (OPBAT), and the United States Coast Guard on Saturday resulted in the apprehension of 39 Haitian migrants in the southern Bahamas.

The migrants — 26 males and 13 females — were spotted on an isolated cay off the south eastern coast of Great Inagua earlier last week. Because of the rocky terrain, efforts to reach the migrants by land and sea proved difficult, the RBDF said in a press release.

As a result, a US helicopter was dispatched to assist in removing the migrants who were eventually taken from the cay and turned over to immigration officials in Inagua for further processing.

This is the second group of migrants to be caught in Bahamian waters within the past month. On November 8, a total of 58 undocumented Haitian migrants were apprehended near Deadman’s Cay, Long Island aboard a 40-ft sloop. They have since been charged before the courts and repatriated.

“The state-of-the-art Kelvin Hughes long range coastal radar installed at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force base in Inagua has proven to be effective in the fight against illicit activities,” the law enforcement agency said. “There has also been an increased maritime presence by Defence Force assets with the support from the USCG aerial reconnaissance.”

The news of the apprehension came after police reported that a Haitian woman awaiting deportation died at the Central Police Station in Grand Bahama on Friday.

According to reports, shortly after 6pm, the 51-year-old woman – who had been convicted of breaching the Immigration Act – was found unresponsive while in the custody suite at the station.

Paramedics took her to the Rand Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Foul play is not suspected in this matter.

An autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.

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