MIAMI – The U.S. Coast Guard said it interdicted 27 Cuban migrants about 5 miles south of Key West on Saturday.
Officials said watchstanders were notified by a good Samaritan vessel about a possible migrant vessel, stating they overheard people speaking but couldn't see any vessel or people.
A Coast Guard Station Key West response boat crew interdicted a vessel with 27 Cuban migrants on board, officials said. The crew safely embarked all of the migrants aboard the station boat.
Officials said the station crew rendezvoused with the Coast Guard cutter Kathleen Moore and safely transferred the migrants to the cutter.
"These illegal ventures attempting to immigrate to the United States are extremely dangerous, especially during the hurricane season when weather and sea conditions can dramatically and rapidly change in minutes, putting migrants in danger of being lost at sea," said Capt. Jason Ryan, chief of the enforcement branch of the Coast Guard 7th District. "The Coast Guard and our partner agencies' first priority is safety of life at sea, and these voyages in ill-equipped vessels aren't safe."
Approximately 438 Cuban migrants have attempted to illegally enter the U.S. via the maritime environment in fiscal year 2019, compared to 384 Cuban migrants in fiscal year 2018, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Officials said the numbers represent the total number of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean and the Atlantic.
"The Coast Guard and our partner agencies maintain their focused and coordinated efforts to interdict and stop these unlawful migration attempts into the United States," Ryan said. "Migrants caught attempting to gain access into the U.S. through these dangerously illegal undertakings at sea will be repatriated to their country in accordance with existing U.S. immigration policy."
All migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.