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64 Haitians picked up

Sixty-four Haitian migrants were apprehended from a sloop intercepted in waters west of Compass Cay in the Exumas around 12:45 p.m. yesterday, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) said.

The apprehensions came amidst violent protests in Haiti.

Of those migrants captured, 58 were males and six were females.

The RBDF said the apprehension was a result of a coordinated effort involving the defense and police forces, OPBAT and the U.S. Coast Guard with the assistance of concerned citizens.

Officers were on the lookout for the vessel two days prior and had conducted an air search with no results.

The vessel was later spotted near Scrub Cay on Saturday by another pilot who reported the sighting to police in Exuma.

It wasn’t until shortly after 10 a.m. yesterday that the vessel was once again spotted by occupants of an OPBAT aircraft near Compass Cay.

The migrants were transported to New Providence where they were handed over to immigration officials for further processing.

“With news of the crisis in Haiti intensifying, the defense force is on the lookout for illicit smuggling activities in the southern Bahamas in the event of an influx of undocumented migrants out of Haiti,” the RBDF said.

“A temporary holding facility will also be set up by the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency in conjunction with The Bahamas immigration department and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force in the southern Bahamas.

“The defense force is also collaborating with United States Coast Guard 7th District, as well as with the regional anti-drug smuggling operation entity known as OPBAT to further strengthen border security in the southern Bahamas.”

The latest incident followed a series of interdictions in recent weeks.

Two weeks ago, 18 Haitians were rescued and 31 bodies recovered after their sloop ran aground off Abaco, authorities said.

Officials said 34 migrants were never found.

According to authorities, 207 Haitians have been apprehended so far for the year.

That number excludes the bodies recovered in the Abaco incident.

Last year, authorities apprehended 1,172 Haitians, according to the RBDF.

Sloan Smith

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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