Authorities respond to large group of migrants found on vessel off Virginia Key Beach

VIRGINIA KEY, Fla. – A large group of migrants were found on an overloaded vessel off Virginia Key Beach Thursday, authorities confirmed.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection along with local law enforcement partners are responding to investigate a suspected maritime smuggling event in Virginia Key,” said Adam Hoffner, of the U.S. Border Patrol Miami Sector.

According to officials, approximately 65 migrants were onboard the vessel that included men, women and children.

Sky 10 flew over the scene where the U.S. Coast Guard, Miami-Dade police, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and other agencies responded.

Sky 10 also spotted City of Miami Marine Patrol jet skis being used to help tow two migrants to safety after they were found swimming in the ocean.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (AMO) deployed a vessel on the water and a helicopter in the air. AMO remained at the scene into the night along with the U.S. Coast Guard.

According to Michael Silva with U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations, 25 of the migrants who landed were from Haiti and the group was at sea for five days.

All of the migrants are believed to be from Haiti.

The 25 migrants who were brought to land will be processed by U.S. Border Patrol at the facility in Dania Beach.

The remaining migrants on the boat were processed by U.S. Coast Guard crews. Typically, these migrants will be transferred to a Coast Guard cutter and be given medical attention, fresh clothes and food. Often, migrants met at sea will be repatriated back to their country of origin.

Authorities urged everyone to stay clear of the area for responding aircraft vessels and land crews.

Local 10 News received photos of the migrants who landed and were being helped by rescue crews.

This is the latest major migrant arrival in South Florida since Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis authorized the National Guard to assist after experiencing a massive spike over New Year’s weekend.

Rescue crews helping migrants after landing on Virgina Key Beach. (WPLG)

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About the Authors:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.

Ryan Mackey is our newest digital journalist at WPLG. He is New York born and South Florida raised.