May 22, 2005 – The U.S. Customs Service and local law enforcement officials aided in the Sunday seizure of a sailboat with 29 undocumented migrants on board.
According to Ivan Ortiz, spokesman for Customs and Border Enforcement, the vessel was spotted by a marine patrol operated by the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. The sailboat was escorted to Sugar Bay on the east end of St. Thomas.
V.I. police and Customs agents assisted in taking the 29 migrants into custody. Ortiz said one woman, believed to be from Haiti, was sent to the Roy L. Schneider Hospital, where she is reported to be in stable condition after suffering from dehydration. The rest, he said, would probably be sent to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
If the people on board the sailboat had managed to land on St. Thomas, they would have been arrested by local police and taken for a hearing in District Court. Because the group was apprehended at sea, they are going instead to Puerto Rico, Ortiz said. Investigators will try to find out who owned the sailboat and decide whether the boat should be seized, he added.
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