The U.S. Coast Guard returned a total of 82 people to Cuba on Tuesday after stopping migrants at sea in eight instances south of the Florida Keys.
The stops took place between the Middle and Lower Keys from May 30 through Friday, with five reported on Friday, the Coast Guard said Tuesday in a news release.
“It was in between several areas from Marathon down to Key West,” said Nicole Groll, a public affairs specialist for the Coast Guard.
The largest group found numbered 31 on a 20-foot vessel. In one case, a vessel holding 23 people was taking on water.
The Coast Guard reported these interdictions:
▪ At 11 a.m. on May 30, a Station Islamorada law enforcement team responded after someone reported seeing three people on a blue 16-foot vessel. One person was brought to shore for additional screening.
▪ At 3:30 a.m. Thursday, a Coast Guard Cutter Valiant law enforcement team launched and stopped a blue 20-foot vessel with 31 people aboard.
▪ A Station Marathon law enforcement team responded at 1:30 p.m. Thursday after someone reported seeing a yellow and white 14-foot vessel with three people aboard.
▪ A Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore law enforcement team launched at about 4:30 a.m. on Friday and stopped a vessel with seven people aboard.
▪ A Coast Guard Cutter Valiant law enforcement team at 6:30 a.m. Friday stopped a vessel that was taking on water with 23 people aboard. One person was brought to shore for further investigation.
▪ A Coast Guard Cutter Valiant law enforcement team at about 9:30 a.m. Friday stopped a vessel with 10 people aboard.
▪ Also at about 8:30 a.m. Friday, a Station Key West law enforcement team stopped a 15-foot vessel with four people aboard.
▪ At 1:30 p.m. Friday, after someone reported seeing a white and brown vessel with three people aboard, a Station Marathon law enforcement team responded.
Migration attempts by sea are up significantly this year compared to the same time last year. The federal government tracks migrant activity by the fiscal year — which begins Oct. 1.
In fiscal year 2020, the agency stopped 49 people making the dangerous journey across the Florida Straits. So far in this fiscal year, Coast Guard crews have interdicted 399 Cubans, according to the release.
“The repatriation of these migrants highlight the unity of effort required with many of our key partners as we work together to intercept these unsafe migration attempts into the United States,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Neiman, a Coast Guard Seventh District public affairs officer. “These voyages are often on very unseaworthy vessels and the dangers of these trips can be deadly.”