Haitian smuggling investigation expands

Nassau – Police have detained a third Bahamian national as the probe continues into Sunday’s tragedy at sea that resulted in 17 Haitians drowning and 25 others rescued after their boat capsized while they were attempting to enter the United States illegally.

The man, who was arrested at a house in central New Providence late on Sunday night, brought to three, the number of Bahamians being questioned in relation to the tragedy.

Police have already detained two men – a 39-year-old and a 48-year-old – after they were rescued with 23 other people after the vessel they were travelling on capsized off New Providence.

National Security Minister Wayne Munroe said authorities intend to examine “the full extent of the operation”.

“In my mind, something like that doesn’t just pop up and happen,” he told the Nassau Guardian newspaper. “So, we may be contending with international criminal organisations.

“There will be investigations to discover how this operation was put together. Is it localised? Does it involve persons in the U.S.? Does it involve persons in Haiti? Is it a transnational gang? Our law enforcement officials will address that.”

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) said 45 people were on board the vessel heading to Freeport, Grand Bahama, or Florida on the 33-foot twin-engine vessel named “Bare Ambitions”.

The RBDF said the vessel departed from the Sand Trap area, which is located west of Arawak Cay, before it overturned four to five nautical miles from the entrance of the Nassau Harbour.

At least three people were believed to still be missing and the search is continuing on Tuesday.

The tragedy on Sunday is the worst loss of life in Bahamian waters since 28 Haitian migrants died when their boat capsized near Abaco in February 2019.


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