Transport in Cuba
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Cuban smugglers captured

Cuban smugglers captured
By KEVA LIGHTBOURNE, Guardian Senior Reporter
klb@nasguardr.com

Three Cuban-Americans suspected of running a human-smuggling operation
from Cuba into the United States were apprehended in Bahamian waters
Tuesday.

Officers of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) and the United States
Coast Guard, were out on a joint-routine patrol when they arrested the
men in the Cay Sal area.

RBDF spokesman Ralph McKinney, said the trio caused their 32-ft.
Intrepid speedboat to be beached in their attempts to escape arrest.

"While in the area of the Cay Sal Bank, the officers came across a
suspicious vessel that was suspected of being prepared to possibly slip
into Cuba to try and transport migrants into the United States or into
The Bahamas and then onto the United States," McKinney said.

"But as the officers approached, the men sped off in their vessel and
beached on Elbow Cay (in southwest Bahamas). They ran and were later
apprehended in the bushes."

According to McKinney, the men traveled from Miami or the South Florida
area, and claimed to be fishermen.

"They said that they were there fishing, but no fishing apparatus or
rods were found on board the vessel. They did not even have any marine
resources in their possession," he explained. "They were suspected of
being there to prepare to smuggle migrants into possibly The Bahamas,
and if not, straight into South Florida somewhere."

The men were transferred to the USCGC Cutter Bonito and brought to the
capital where they were turned over to Immigration officials early
yesterday morning. Their vessel was towed to the Defence Force Harbour Unit.

When contacted, a senior immigration official was reluctant to release
the identities of the men. He did state, however, that they are now in
the custody of the Carmichael Road Detention Center where they will be
interviewed and processed.

The official was not in a position to confirm that the men were indeed a
part of a "smuggling operation."

Just last week, a similar incident occurred where four Cubans were
apprehended on a cay in the same area. The immigration official said the
men were allegedly "dropped off" and were awaiting to be picked up to be
"smuggled" into the United States. These men are also being housed at
the Detention Center.

Up to press time, The Nassau Guardian was unable to ascertain when they
will be repatriated.

In Tuesday's incident, the officers were operating in accordance with
the Ship Riders' Agreement between the Governments of The Bahamas and
the United States of America. The bilateral agreement permits the Coast
Guard vessels with Defence Force operatives to conduct law enforcement
operations in Bahamian territorial waters.

http://www.thenassauguardian.com/national_local/318290831405569.php

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