Saturday, Feb 23, 2019
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Search continues for more migrants from Haitian sloop


Director of Immigration William Pratt admitted yesterday that while 31 Haitian migrants were apprehended on Sunday, some of them were not a part of the group of Haitians whose sloop was spotted around 4 a.m. in waters off South Beach.

Officials said they were informed by some of the captured migrants that they had been a part of a group of 100 aboard the vessel.

According to officials, 16 of the migrants were caught in the immediate area and another 15 later apprehended in Gamble Heights.

Asked how dozens of Haitian migrants evaded capture when the vessel did not come up to the shore, Pratt said authorities believe the boat came in long before they were tipped off about it.

“We tried to get there as quickly as possible because we got the call at 4 a.m. and at about 4:25 a.m. our first set of officers was on the scene, and they met the Police and Defence Force there,” Pratt said.

“I guess the residents in the area, who telephoned police perhaps [they] may have seen the last set of people.

“…We believe that when the call was placed to police the boat might have been there from several hours before.

“We got some intelligence that maybe some were in a nearby village.

“We went in and [officers] rampaged that village, and another village, but of course the people who were arrested, they were not people who just immediately arrived, even though they may not have had anything to show.

“These were people who were set in the village already.”

The group captured included 26 men, three women and two children, according to the defence force.

Officials believe some of the migrants who came in on the sloop have sought refuge in shantytowns.

“We are working closely with those who usually provide us with information,” Pratt said.

“We are still hoping that some intelligence would be provided to us because sometimes they are hidden in safe houses.

“If they are here they are going to be found. When we have sustained and continued apprehension exercises, we will be picking them up. It may not be today, but we will be picking them up.”

Pratt said generally once migrants set foot on land it can be challenging to capture them without residents tipping off officials, but he said, “Every day we are going out. We will catch some of those who came off the boat for sure.”

Up to yesterday afternoon no additional Haitian migrants had been apprehended, officials said.

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