Two Bahamian men were caught last Thursday night by the US Coast Guard trying to smuggle 26 undocumented immigrants, one of whom was a 16 year old girl, after their speedboat suffered engine problems just 17 miles from the coast of Florida.
An immigration official has revealed that the men left Freeport at around midnight on the night in question on a 30 foot Scarab, but five hours after they left Grand Bahama the boat began to develop engine trouble. A passing private vessel spotted the disabled craft and contacted the US Coast Guard. The call was responded to by Bernard C Webber, the USCG Cutter, who rescued the group but then handed them over to the Bahamas immigration authorities upon arrival at Lucayan Harbour.
One of the Bahamian men has been apprehended once before and is still facing a smuggling case in the courts for that offence, according to immigration officer Napthali Cooper. Cooper says that two of the men from Haiti, one of whom is actually originally from the Bahamas, were arrested only recently and delivered to the Detention Center following their apprehension after another attempt at smuggling from the Bahamas.
The group has been processed in the normal manner at Immigration Headquarters, with the men expected to appear in court this week to face charges. In a separate incident, 17 undocumented immigrants were also found stranded in Memory Rock, in the West End of Grand Bahama by the US Coast Guard. The group consisted of one Ecuadorian, three Jamaicans and 14 Haitians.