U.S. returns 40 migrants to Cuba after intercepting two vessels

U.S. returns 40 migrants to Cuba after intercepting two vessels

HAVANA, Jan. 28th The U.S. Coast Guard on Friday said it has returned 40 people to Cuba after intercepting two vessels near Florida while two people were being investigated for human smuggling.Increasing numbers of migrants are trying their luck at sea amid growing economic problems in Caribbean nations.

The vessels were spotted near the Florida Keys on Sunday and on Tuesday. Two suspected smugglers were transferred to Homeland Security Investigations, a Coast Guard statement said.
“People illegally entering the U.S. using smugglers put their lives in the hands of criminals,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Mark Cobb. “Migrant smugglers are ruthless criminals who only care about profit.”

U.S. sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced international tourism, have hurt Cuba’s economy. The Coast Guard said that its crews have interdicted 690 Cubans since Oct. 1, compared with 838 in the 12 months ending on Sept. 30.

The Coast Guard on Thursday said it was calling off its search for 34 people who disappeared after a boat capsized off Florida’s coast, and that it had intercepted a sailing vessel carrying 191 Haitians.

Haitian boat migration is on the rise due to an economic downturn and a spike in gang-related kidnappings that have worsened since the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise.