Munroe: No reports that anyone from Bimini missing after human trafficking incident

Following reports that a boat carrying 40 people capsized near Florida after departing Bimini, Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe said there are no reports out of Bimini indicating that anyone from the island was involved in the incident, believed to be a human trafficking operation.

“I was advised that nobody has been reported missing from Bimini,” he said.

On Tuesday morning, a commercial vessel rescued a man clinging to a capsized boat in the waters east of Florida.

The passenger was later taken to shore by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) for medical care.

He told US officials that he was on a boat carrying 40 people that encountered bad weather not long after departing from Bimini. The USCG said the incident was a “suspected migrant venture”.

Munroe noted yesterday that while he could not speak about the specifics of this latest incident, or provide any official data on the prevalence of such incidents, his private experience as an attorney indicates that, typically, people enter The Bahamas legally before seeking to be trafficked into the US.

“Over the course of my career at the private bar, I was aware of a number of cases of narcotics smuggling and human smuggling from Grand Bahama and Bimini,” he said.

“Human smuggling was of the sort that people would fly into The Bahamas and land quite legally and then seek to be trafficked to the US.

“So, it’s people who can enter The Bahamas, but maybe can’t enter the US.

“…I have encountered cases at the bar where you had US pleasure craft used to do that, US pleasure craft used to smuggle cocaine as well. So, it’s just one of those events.

“It’s not the typical presentation of it of a Haitian sloop coming up the chain. It’s a vessel originating in The Bahamas.”

In recent months, there have been several cases of suspected human smuggling operations in The Bahamas.

Last week, there were two incidents on Bimini.

In the first, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) said it uncovered a possible migrant smuggling operation on January 16.

Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) reported a possible mayday call heard in the Bimini area. 

In a search of the area, OPBAT found a boat that was taking on water due to poor weather conditions. 

Six people were on the boat — two Bahamians, two Colombians and two Ecuadorians. 

On January 21, the RBDF said 31 suspected migrants were rescued in waters southwest of Bimini, a joint effort by the defense force, OPBAT, the police force, and the USCG.

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Rachel Scott

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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