By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – While the overwhelming majority of foreign nationals entering the U.S. illegally do so through the southern border, Miami Sector Border Patrol agents are regularly interdicting Cubans and others attempting to reach Florida, often arriving on small makeshift boats. Law enforcement officers also are regularly confiscating drugs that wash up on shore.
Last weekend, “Good Samaritans” found 126 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of $2 million that had washed up on the beach at Ocean Pointe Pool Beach Marina in Tavernier, the Monroe County Sheriff’s office said. That is as Miami Border Patrol Sector agents apprehend and take into custody mostly Cuban men making landfall off the Florida coast on a near daily basis.
In the past week, agents apprehended and took into custody multiple groups of mostly Cuban men.
On July 31, agents apprehended four Cuban nationals who landed in Key Colony Beach attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. They were taken into custody and processed for removal proceedings, Miami Sector CBP Chief Patrol Agent Walter Slosar said. Earlier in the day, 17 Cubans were also taken into custody after they arrived in a rustic vessel in Big Pine Key.
Rustic vessels are often made from scraps of wood or metal and poorly constructed, held together with straps of plastic or rope. They also might include small 25-foot fishing vessels with makeshift motors.
According to Cuba Ferries, it takes 10 hours to travel 250 nautical miles from Havana to Miami. From Cuba to Key West, the sailing distance is roughly 90 nautical miles, or four hours.
On July 30, BP agents apprehended 15 Cubans after their rustic vessel made landfall in the Marquesas Keys, an uninhabited island west of Key West. They were stranded and rescued by a Border Patrol Air and Marine Operation (AMO) unit.
Also on the same day, Border Patrol agents working with law enforcement partners apprehended 11 Cuban men from Matanzas who made landfall in the Florida Keys in a makeshift boat constructed of two-by-fours.
On July 27, BP agents apprehended and took into custody 16 Cubans who made landfall near Key West on a rustic vessel. The day before they’d done the same with seven Cubans who made landfall in a homemade sailing vessel in Boca Grande Key, an uninhabited island west of Key West. The group was also stranded and rescued by BP AMO agents.
On July 24, BP agents, working with local law enforcement partners, apprehended and took into custody seven Cubans who landed at Pigeon Key in Marathon in a wooden vessel. The day before, they’d done the same with 27 Cubans who made landfall in Key West onboard a wooden vessel.
On July 22, they took into custody 14 Cubans who made landfall at Long Key State Park in the Florida Keys using a makeshift wooden vessel. The day before, they’d apprehended eight Cubans who made landfall at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West who arrived in a makeshift boat constructed out of pieces of metal. In another instance on the same day, they apprehended a large group of over 50 people in a sailing vessel off the coast of Boca Chita. Local mariners were warned to “stay clear of the area for safety concerns.”
Cubans are continuing to make landfall in the Marquesas Keys, on Jupiter Island, and along the coast of the Florida Keys, according to reports by the Miami Sector.