Florida Keys, FLA – A Local 10 News crew flew with members U.S. Coast Guard Saturday morning and witnessed firsthand a humanitarian air drop of supplies to migrants stranded along the Cay Sal Bank in Anguilla Cay.
They received a ration of meals, water, blankets, and a working radio so they could communicate with the crew onboard the plane.
The group of 14 migrants said on radio they left Camaguey, Cuba, on Jan. 1. They lost track of time once they were stranded on the island, but believe they had been there for more than a week.
Coast Guard officials said they notified the Bahamian authorities about the people on the island, and are allowed to patrol the islands because of a long standing partnership.
Saturday’s air drop comes as federal authorities have been stepping up law enforcement presence around the South Florida coast following a steady surge of migration from Cuba and Haiti.
Local 10 News has had exclusive access to U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations to see the work of agents over the last year.
“It’s the busiest I’ve ever seen it,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Ryan Lloyd. “And I’ve been here off and on for the past decade.”
Additional state law enforcement resources have been added to the Florida Keys to respond to migrant landings.
Since October, the U.S. Coast Guard has stopped 5,100 migrants at sea trying to enter the U.S, already outpacing last year.
“The amount of time we are spending looking for people who are missing, or that their vessel is taking on water or flipped, I mean, this is a dangerous journey,” Lloyd said. “There are sharks out here. These vessels, they aren’t very seaworthy. There’s clearly some desperation going on, but I wish there was a better solution than them feeling the need to take to the sea and make that voyage across.”