More than 150 migrants intercepted on a sailboat believed to be from Haiti, a country in crisis

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Florida. — US Customs and Border Protection, the US Coast Guard and Miami-Dade police boats arrived on the scene as officials intercepted a sailboat carrying more than 150 migrants near Boca Chita Key on Thursday morning.

Around 10:45 a.m. Sky 10 flew over the boat, which was filled to the brim with people. Several children were on board.

Boca Chita Key is south of Key Biscayne and is located in Biscayne National Park.

Around 11:10 a.m., the brigades began to throw out life jackets to the migrants.

Coast Guard officials confirmed just after 11:15 a.m. that at least 150 migrants were on board. They said the Good Samaritan spotted the boat after it ran aground on Thursday.

Also on the scene were members of the Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue Service, as well as representatives of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Coast Guard crews provided the migrants with life jackets and water and ferried them to boats in small groups. Those in need of medical attention were taken to Homestead Hospital.

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The agency described the sailboat as “overloaded and unsafe” in a tweet Thursday afternoon.

Carl Ball was fishing when he saw a boat full of people. By the time he encountered this, the agencies had already arrived on the scene.

“As I was going south, I saw the sailboat sideways, the sails were shifted to the side, and next to it was the MDFR boat,” Ball said. “They were standing there on deck.”

Shortly before 16:30, all migrants were removed from the sailboat.

Although officials have not officially confirmed where they came from, they are believed to be from Haiti.

WATCH: “Country at War”

Images and videos from social media show black smoke billowing from the east side of the building facing Southwest Eighth Street.

Local leaders reacted to the news on Thursday.

Marlene Bastien, Executive Director of the Family Action Network, called situation in Haiti “political, economic and human crisis”.

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“We can clearly see a peak (of migration) at a time of high levels of political instability and serious human rights violations, and that is what is happening right now in Haiti,” Bastien said. “This is a country at war.”

Bastien said the situation in Haiti is so dire that many are willing to risk their lives to save themselves.

“You have gang members wreaking havoc, killing, decapitating people, kidnapping women and girls, raping girls as young as a few months old,” she said. “The justice system is not working. There is no fuel or food.”

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestim, a Haitian-American, released a statement following Thursday’s intercept:

“It is well known that the political, health and security situation in Haiti is dire,” Monestim said. “Many of the Haitians arriving in the US are clearly asylum seekers fleeing political instability. I hope President Biden, his administration, and our legal system treat these migrants humanely.”

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Local and federal law enforcement agencies have noted a marked increase in migration attempts in Florida and Caribbean waters.

“You have to think how desperate they are to jump into such a boat with so many people,” Ball said. “Your heart really sympathizes with these people.”

In May the boat 842 Haitian migrantsbound for the United States ended up in Cuba instead.

In April, US Coast Guard crews rescued 88 Haitian migrants from a sinking ship in the Florida Strait.

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