U.S. returns 40 immigrants to Cuba after intercepting two vessels

Miami — Friday’s U.S. Coast Guard said it returned 40 people to Cuba after intercepting two ships near Florida while they were being investigated for trafficking.

The ship was found near the Florida Keys on January 23 and 25, according to a Coast Guard statement. Two suspected smugglers were transferred to the Department of Homeland Security.

“People who use smugglers to illegally invade the United States put their lives in the hands of criminals,” said Coast Guard Lieutenant Mark Cobb. “Immigrant smugglers are ruthless criminals who only care about profits.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced US sanctions and international tourism, has hit Cuba’s economy. The Coast Guard said its crew had blocked 690 Cubans since October 1, compared to 838 in the 12 months to September 30.

Haiti’s boat migration has increased due to the recession that has worsened since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July and the surge in gang-related abductions.

The Coast Guard said Thursday that it had intercepted a sailing vessel carrying 191 Haitians.

He also stopped searching for 34 people who disappeared after a boat carrying 40 capsized people on the Florida coast. US authorities do not disclose the nationalities of the people on board.

Five were recovered and there was one survivor. Colombia’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday that it would help survivors, who were identified as Juan Pablo Montoya, who were transferred to a hospital in Miami under the control of immigration authorities. His sister Maria Montoya died in an accident.

The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests for comment.