Screams can be heard in a 911 call made from a boat that capsized off Miami with 15 people on board.
Miami-Dade police released the call Friday. The call came from one of the survivors the Coast Guard found clinging to the hull Wednesday seven miles off Miami.
The caller told the emergency dispatcher that the boat was 25 miles from South Beach. He said they "need a rescue out here fast" but he failed to answer the dispatcher's subsequent questions. Instead, screams can be heard, and then silence.
Listen: 911 call |
The dispatcher gave the caller's coordinates to the Coast Guard. Rescuers found the bodies of four women trapped beneath the boat. Six of the survivors face federal charges, including Jamaican national George Lewis, who's charged with alien smuggling.
"You have the organizers, which are the sophisticated criminal organization, and then you have the vessel operators, the transporters," said Gerard O'Neill, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations. "They're basically mercenaries, people that are hired. Hired guns, if you will."
Court documents say survivors identified Lewis and Naaman Davis as in charge of the boat, and one said he saw the two in Bimini with a third known smuggler before launching the voyage.
The survivors are from Haiti, the Bahamas and Jamaica. Immigration authorities are investigating.
"These are people's sisters, mothers, wives. The human cost of human smuggling makes it a priority for Homeland Security Investigations," said O'Neill.
Migrants routinely attempt to illegally reach Florida's coast in overloaded or unseaworthy vessels, often through established smuggling networks that include islands in the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos.