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Contact: Linda Friar, 305-242-7714
June 12, 2008
For Immediate Release
Everglades National Park Rangers respond to Cuban immigrant smuggling at Flamingo
HomesteadFlorida. - On Wednesday, June 11, 2008, at approximately 0815 hours, rangers in the Flamingo District of Everglades National Park received information that two vessels had dropped off migrants on the beaches of Cape Sable in the Flamingo District of the park.
While rangers mobilized, two vessels, a 33’ Avanti and a 26’ Sunrunner were coming into the Flamingo Marina. The Avanti was towing a personal watercraft. Rangers contacted the vessels and upon questioning the individuals, established reasonable suspicion that the vessels were involved in the migrant smuggling that had just occurred.
A GPS onboard the Avanti showed a track going from Cuba to East Cape Sable.
Rangers notified the U.S. Border Patrol who sent staff to Flamingo where the suspects were being detained. While Border Patrol agents questioned the 10 suspects, rangers responded by vessel to East Cape and transported 27 migrants to Flamingo turning them over to Border Patrol. The group of 27 migrants consisted of 14 males, 9 females and 4 juveniles between the ages of 2 and 10. Several migrants were treated for dehydration and all suffered from mosquito bites.
Border Patrol took custody of all suspects and migrants. With the rangers assistance, they seized the Avanti and Sunrunner, as well as a 10’ personal watercraft, 3 pick-up trucks and 3 trailers. Border Patrol investigation of the incident is still underway.
Park rangers have observed several of the suspects in the Flamingo area previously late at night and on similar go-fast vessels.