Sheriff's deputies and U.S. Border Patrol agents stop a white van with a large group of Cuban migrants on Thursday afternoon in Key Largo. MCSO/Contributed

Multiple human smugglers and more than 20 Cuban migrants were detained in Key Largo on Thursday afternoon after witnesses told law enforcement they saw a vessel offloading a large group of people near the Seven Mile Bridge. 

The U.S. Border Patrol said they’re investigating the incident, which began Thursday morning when deputies stopped a trailered center console at the Marathon public boat ramp for having no tie-downs. Witnesses reported to law enforcement that they saw a vessel matching the boat’s description offloading more than 20 people near the north end of the Seven Mile Bridge.

Deputies stopped a trailer center console at the Marathon public boat ramp on Thursday morning for having no tie-downs. Witnesses said they saw the boat offloading a large group of people near the Seven Mile Bridge. MCSO/Contributed

A short time later, deputies stopped an orange sedan and white van for speeding near MM 104 in Key Largo. Deputies confirmed the passengers inside the vehicles matched the description of those seen earlier jumping off a boat near the Seven Mile Bridge.

Walter Slosar, CBP chief patrol agent, said via X, or formerly Twitter, that they arrested 21 Cuban migrants and multiple suspected human smugglers during the traffic stop in Key Largo. Border Patrol and Homeland Security Investigations in Miami are investigating the human smuggling event.

Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.