KEY LARGO, FLA. (WSVN) – Federal authorities said they have taken around 300 Haitian migrants into custody after a grounded sailing vessel was spotted near Key Largo, as they investigate what they described as a suspected maritime smuggling event.
At around 3 p.m. on Saturday, U.S. Border Patrol, Coast Guard and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue units responded to the migrant vessel near Ocean Reef Club.
Investigators said 113 of the migrants got in the water and managed to swim to shore. They were taken into Border Patrol custody.
Just after 5:20 p.m., 7SkyForce hovered above the vessel as Coast Guard crews slowly removed the people who remained on board the vessel.
Coast Guard crews used two cutters and at least three of their small inflatable boats to remove the passengers from the vessel.
Pictures captured several of the passengers as they sat draped in towels. Some were seen holding plastic water bottles.
First responders evaluated the passengers and provided medical treatment to anyone who needed it.
Just before 6:30 p.m., a 7News crew saw two large buses driven by armed security guards going inside the Ocean Reef Club.
Saturday night, Border Patrol officials said roughly 200 migrants were removed from the vessel, bringing the total number who were on board the vessel when it first arrived to around 300. Officials said there are some women and children, but the majority of them are men.
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