BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Border patrol agents honed in on a 40-foot sport fishing vessel early Sunday afternoon after getting a number of calls from neighbors about a possible migrant landing.
At least 19 migrants made landfall in a waterfront neighborhood along the Hillsborough River near the Pompano Beach and Lighthouse Point border.
“I have a friend that lives on this street and he called me when I got home from work and said, ‘I’ve got people in my backyard climbing the fence,’” said resident Harvey Villa.
Broward Sheriff’s deputies and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents responded to the scene, and the group was quickly detained.
Among the migrants were two children and two women who appeared to be pregnant.
“I was able to take a look inside the vessel and, not the best conditions, there was about six to eight fuel drums under the front bow sitting there, you could smell the fumes and the gasoline when you got on board, so likely a very dangerous journey at sea,” said Adam Hoffner, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
One witness recorded cellphone video of a BSO helicopter in the area and the group being placed into custody.
The incident is believed to be tied to a smuggling attempt, but whereabouts of the captain, or who was piloting the boat on the mission from the Caribbean, is still being investigated.
All but one of the migrants are believed to be from Haiti, with the other coming from the Dominican Republic.
They were taken to a facility in Dania Beach to be processed, and then it’s believed they may be repatriated.