Bahamas officials said the US Coast Guard intercepted a boat carrying 396 Haitian migrants near the Bahamas in one of the largest human trafficking incidents ever reported.
The migrants were detained near the remote island of Sal, located between Florida and Cuba. Immigration officials in the Bahamas said in a statement on Sunday. Furthermore, he confirmed that the migrants would be processed on the Bahamian island of Inagua and then repatriated.
No further details were immediately available. A US Coast Guard spokeswoman said she had no information about the incident.
Thousands of Haitians are increasingly fleeing gang violence and deepening political instability in a country that currently has no democratically elected institutions.
Many people travel to the Bahamas and other nearby islands in the hopes of eventually reaching Florida. The journeys are often fatal, with migrants piling up in makeshift boats sinking in recent months.
It should be noted that the exodus comes as the administration of US President Joe Biden recently announced that it would start turning back Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans who came illegally at the Texas border.
The administration now offers humanitarian parole to 30,000 people a month from those countries if they obtain a financial sponsor, apply online and pay their airfare.
Coast Guard rescues 34 Haitians abandoned by smugglers on a reef in Puerto Rico
In other developments, the US Coast Guard said last December the crew rescued 34 Haitians abandoned by smugglers on a reef in Puerto Rico.
USCG Cutter Herberto Hernandez, a 154-foot vessel homeported in San Juan, responded to the report A group of people stranded in the uninhabited nature reserve of Monito Cay, located off the island of Mona, Puerto Rico.
Coast Guard watchmen in San Juan initially reported the abandoned group after receiving a communication from park rangers of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources.
A Coast Guard Ocean Sentry aircraft flew over the area and confirmed sighting several campfires, prompting the ship’s response.
Heriberto Hernandez, Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard, said Lieutenant Robert Renfro. The crew completed a five-hour high-risk underwater rescue in 10- to 15-foot waves.
“This case is concrete evidence that traffickers are willing to release people in harsh and dangerous environments like Monito,” Renfro said in a statement.
To complete the rescue, the cutter Herberto Hernandez launched a small boat to get closer to the reef, while the group of men headed for the lowest point. Once the small boat was in position, each man jumped from the cliff into the water, where they were carried to safety.
When the smaller boat returned to the larger boat, the group received food, water, and basic medical care. The survivors, 26 men, seven women and one child, were transferred to US Border Patrol agents in the Remy Sector in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.
The rescue operation was part of an ongoing multi-agency effort supported by the Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Interagency Border Group.
Between October 1 and November 30, the Coast Guard intercepted 11 illegal cruises carrying a total of 324 non-US citizens in the waters off Mona Passage and Puerto Rico. The USCG said 300 of those people were Dominican, 23 were Haitian and one person’s nationality was unknown.