Suspected Cuban migrants spotted by Coast Guard off coast of Key Biscayne

Migrants reportedly failing to stop for authorities before surrendering

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Andrew Perez - Reporter

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. - A group of suspected Cuban migrants was spotted Thursday by the U.S. Coast Guard off the coast of Key Biscayne.

Coast Guard officials said 11 migrants were spotted about 2 p.m. about a mile and a half away from Bill Baggs Cape State Park.

The migrants, 9 men and two women, were reportedly refusing to stop for the Coast Guard.

Sky 10 was above the scene at 2:20 p.m. and saw authorities pointing their weapons at the migrants.

Customs and Border Protection spokesman Keith Smith said marine interdiction agents "deployed the PepperBall Launcher System tool to interdict the vessel."

One of the migrants jumped out of the boat before the people inside the boat put their hands up in the air.

Ramon Sanchez, president of the democracy movement, said he questions the methods being used to keep Cuban migrants away.

"I don't think they should be shot at or harmed physically just to keep them (from) being wet foot," Sanchez said.

Sanchez said scores of Cubans will continue to try to come to the U.S., but this way of dealing with the issue is dangerous.

"There is a massive exodus taking place and no government is talking about it," he said. 

The migrants eventually surrendered to authorities just before 2:30 p.m. They were given life vests and were placed into handcuffs.

According to the Coast Guard, 5,200 Cubans have tried to leave the island by sea since Oct. 1, 2015. In 2014, more than 4,400 tried to reach the U.S. through the Florida Straits.

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