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Detective arrests two after USCG pursuit of migrant smugglers
19 Cuban migrants repatriated

Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2007

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Lower Keys - Sheriff's detectives arrested two men after they fled from the U.S. Coast Guard Friday with 19 Cuban migrants on board their go fast boat.

According to Detective Paul Schultz, the Coast Guard was notified by the Cuban Government at 4:30 a.m. Friday of a go fast type boat headed northbound from Cuba with possible Cuban migrants on board. The Coast Guard was able to locate the vessel and launched a boat and a helicopter to intercept it. The 33 foot 2007 Avanti with twin 275 horsepower Mercury engines was located, headed for the Marquesas and the Coast Guard attempted to stop it using the lights and siren on it's pursuit vessel. The boat refused to stop.

Visible on board the boat were a number of passengers that reportedly appeared to be Cuban migrants. The operators of the boat, later identified as 26 year old Yudel Armada of Hialeah and 23 year old Dariel Sanchez of Homestead, refused to stop. Instead, they continued to flee at speeds reaching 45 knots. Several times during the pursuit, the suspects attempted to ram the Coast Guard vessel, one time actually hitting it.

Because of the extreme danger to both the passengers on the fleeing boat and the crew on the Coast Guard vessel, Detective Schultz said the Coast Guard finally had to fire a weapon into the starboard engine of the go-fast, bringing it to a stop. Sanchez and Armada were both taken into custody and were taken to U.S. Coast Guard station Key West. The Sheriff's Office was notified and responded, arresting the two men for fleeing and eluding police, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and reckless operation of a vessel and they were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.

According to Detective Schultz, the Coast Guard took custody of the 19 Cuban migrants, who will reportedly be repatriated to Cuba. No one was reported to be injured during the incident.

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