123 HAITIAN MIGRANTS LAND IN MARATHON, FLORIDA

A Coast Guard vessel intercepts the Haitian migrants before the majority of them took to the water and swam to land. U.S. COAST GUARD/Contributed

On Aug. 8, the Florida Keys experienced its second large migrant landing in less than three days, as a large sailboat carrying a total of 123 Haitian migrants ran aground offshore in the area of 79th Street Ocean in Marathon. One hundred nine of the migrants entered the water, making the swim to land before they were eventually apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents in a multi-agency collaboration with FWC Law Enforcement, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Coast Guard. 14 migrants who remained aboard the vessel were taken into custody of the Coast Guard for repatriation.

According to U.S. Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent Walter Slosar, local emergency medical services conducted a medical screening of all migrants and found no injuries. The migrants who made the swim to land remain in Border Patrol custody, where they will eventually be interviewed and processed as part of the immigration procedure.

Monday night’s incident is the latest in a string of recent large Haitian migrant landings throughout South Florida. As of Aug. 7, Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement partners had arrested 263 migrants from 16 migrant landings in a two-day period. On Aug. 6, a total of 333 migrants ran aground in a vessel off Key Largo’s Ocean Reef Club. In March, a total of 356 migrants ran aground in the same area, with 158 individuals making their way to shore.

The investigation into this landing and other similar incidents is ongoing. Keys Weekly will update this story as more details become available.

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Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.