An undetermined number of migrants were intercepted in Bahamian water aboard a Haitian sailing sloop early this morning as part of a joint maritime effort between the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and Operations Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT). Information received by the Defence Force Intelligence Section in collaboration with The
Bahamas Immigration Department was shared with OPBAT resulting in the Haitian sloop being spotted in the southern Bahamas yesterday by an OPBAT helicopter 67 miles west of Inagua. A Defence Force patrol craft and an OPBAT helicopter were on the lookout for the Haitian sloop since Friday. The wooden vessel was eventually intercepted around 5:30 a.m. this morning approximately 40 miles east of Ragged Island by HMBS Durward Knowles, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Omarv Saunders. The number of migrants on the vessel are undetermined at this time as the operation is still underway. However, the occupants will be turned over to Immigration officials for further processing on completion of the boarding and transportation exercise.
This is the second apprehension of Haitian migrants by the Defence Force within 2 weeks. A group of 46 migrants was apprehended by Defence Force patrol craft, HMBS Madeira, on July 3 near South Eleuthera. They have since been charged before the courts in Nassau. Commodore Tellis Bethel lauded the efforts of the dedicated men and women of the Defence Force, who have had a number of successful interdictions over the past few months. He stated that both the Defence Force’s Operations Branch, which coordinates all Defence Force aircraft, patrol craft, and troop movements with the logistical support of the Administration Branch and the Force’s Logistics Command has been working tirelessly to secure our borders. Commodore Bethel also expressed his gratitude for support received from both local and US partners. This latest success “would not have been possible without the support of The Bahamas Immigration Department, as well as OPBAT,” said Commodore Bethel. Last June, HMBS Durward Knowles also apprehended a Dominican fishing vessel with approximately 9,000 pounds of fisheries product on board. More recently, HMBS Madeira apprehended a Dominican fishing vessel with 33,000 pounds of fisheries products on board. A combined total of 50 Dominicans involved in these incidents have been charged before the courts. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force remains committed to protecting the territorial integrity of The Bahamas and keeping our borders secured.